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Page 113
AUSTIN EXECUTIVE AIRPORT
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
R
on
W. H
enRiksen
Chapter 5
Do that and I promise not to complain when
it starts coming apart at the seams. They
agreed to my terms.
A crew of hard-hatted stocky workers
showed up driving super duty trucks haul-
ing trailers filled with heavy equipment, and
they mowed the weeds down to the nub and
churned up the rock and sections of forty-
year-old asphalt and piled great mounds of
refuse nearby. They hauled in 7,640 square
yards of base and subgrade and rolled it flat
and put a layer of midnight black asphalt
on top. This was all smashed down with a
couple of dirty-yellow, double-drum, counter-
rotating, independent vibrating asphalt roll-
ers: Mission accomplished.
You Get What You Pay For
Good to my word, I didn't make a peep
when the runway began to pull apart. Some of
the gaps were big enough to step in and lose a
shoe. My quarter-million-dollar runway didn't
crumble overnight. Nor did it crumble in a day
or a week or even a month, but it did eventually
come undone just like the foreman had predict-
ed. Without a stable subgrade for the asphalt
to lay upon, something had to give; and after
several months of sun and rain and a handful
of aircraft rolling up and down the runway, the
surface turned wavy, more so along the edges
at the line between blacktop and grass where
a rampant Bermuda grass was determined
to reclaim lost territory. The graying surface
had become covered in a web of crooked dark
lines, some a foot deep, most of them running
roughly parallel to the airstrip.
Jim Craig and I examined the cracks, stood
there, shook our heads, and measured the
depth of a few whoppers. Then we hired an-
other contractor to come out and do what they
could to keep things from getting any worse.
The new crew filled each crack with sand and
poured a thick hot tar mix into each crevasse.
Now given the right time of day and just the
right angle, it looked like I had an infestation
of large black snakes slithering down the old
runway.
Flight Office Rehab
As the runway gang were coming and go-
ing, I got a bunch of carpenters to take a look
at the flight office and see what was salvage-
able. Before they could get started they had
to do battle with a few dozen wasp nests. I
suggested to the man in charge that he go
down to the hardware store to buy a case of
super wasp/bee/hornet juice, the kind with a
twenty-two-foot spray and that is toxic enough
to slow down a water buffalo. I was thinking
of a frontal assault: Arm every hand with a
can of super spray, take our positions, and
slaughter the enemy in one fell swoop. The
giant hanging wasp hotels were attached un-
der the eaves and each contained countless
individual cells. Wasp nests are made from
wood fiber, chewed up, and formed into pa-
perlike combs. It's likely that the soft chewy
wood fiber came from the wooden siding of
the flight office. Up close I saw that the siding
was blotchy with rot and patches where some-
thing small and angry had eaten through.
The wasp raid was as exciting as it got.
Thereafter, the carpenters and helpers spent