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A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
W. H
Chapter 11
door, but a flimsy blue curtain. The flight at-
tendant waved the curtain aside and stood
back as if inviting me inside, which was more
or less impossible given the closet-like size
of the cockpit. I did take a step forward and
had to actually stoop to keep from hitting my
head on the ceiling.
Inside the flight deck, the captain, half
turned in his seat, sat on the left flying the air-
plane (which was presumably on autopilot);
the first officer was on the right wearing an
oxygen mask (an FAA requirement anytime
an aircraft ascends over 35,000 feet or so with
passengers aboard); and a third man, the
flight engineer, sat directly in front of me fac-
ing a massive bank of dials and instruments
on my right, not unlike what I pictured the
inside of a space shuttle might look.
I talked to the captain for five minutes or
so, a nice guy, who told me he had more than
500 hours of supersonic flight. We swapped a
few stories. I recalled one dating back many
years. I was piloting a Swearingen Merlin II
twin engine turbo prop from Houston to Okla-
homa City. I was up around 18,000 feet, forty
miles southeast of Dallas-Fort Worth Interna-
tional Airport, when air traffic control came
on the radio and said that if I glanced out the
window I might catch the Concorde taking
off from DFW en route to Washington. Sure
enough, there it was, a white mass of shiny
steal barely visible streaking through the air.
Dove Bid Auction House
As for the British Airways Concorde Enthu-
siasts' Auction, it lasted a full four days starting
on Wednesday April 14, 2004. The Rolls Royce
engine wasn't scheduled to be auctioned until
day four, Saturday. I crawled out of bed well be-
fore the bidding began at 3:00 a.m. (9:00 a.m.
London time) and dialed the phone into the
DoveBid conference line. Immediately, I had
a speakerphone connection to a room some-
where in London where people, like me, were
unusually eager to spend scads on crates full
of Concorde merchandise.
At the same time, I logged onto the Dove-
Bid/British Airways web page and stared at
the screen. I could see next to nothing of con-
sequence--a static world map in pale green
with tiny red dots that represented buyers.
At one point I counted ten buyers from the
U.S.--two in California, one in Utah, me in
Texas, and the remainder spread along the
east coast. I also noticed several bidders in
western Canada and a lone bidder in Japan.
After some preliminary throat clearing by
the auctioneer, a man with a nasal voice and a
mild British accent that wasn't entirely impos-
sible to understand, he intro'd the first item
and prodded bidders to make an offer.
When I had set up my DoveBid account,
I indicated that I wanted to bid on several
items: an airspeed indicator (Lot 38), a Jaeger
Mach meter (Lot 46) and, of course, the Rolls
Royce/SNECMA Olympus jet engine (Lot
5620). I sat patiently and waited for my lot
number to be called. I listened. And waited.
I thumbed through the catalog. And waited.
I strained to keep up as a surprisingly quiet
roomful of Concorde parts buyers bid on a
dropnose selector switch, several ice detec-