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AUSTIN EXECUTIVE AIRPORT
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
R
on
W. H
enRiksen
Chapter 2
Bird's Nest Airport
Transforming a Pasture into a Refuge for Birds and Men Who Fly
Austin Executive Airport wouldn't exist if
it weren't for a man and his gutsy vision. Ray
Harding, a former public school teacher and
airplane enthusiast, had a dream to build a
general aviation airport from the ground up.
After more than forty years, Ray's story isn't
easy to reconstruct with complete accuracy.
What I know from personal interviews and
news stories is that Ray wanted to put his fif-
teen years' science teaching career at Reilly
2008. Ron W. Henriksen and his son James inside what was once the Austin Parachute Center shed. Behind
them is the now-faded Bird's Nest Airport entrance sign. Photo courtesy of David Hannah III.
Elementary School behind him and turn a
Texas pasture into a feisty general aviation
airport that catered to flyers and gliders and
jumpers and balloonists. He wanted an en-
vironment that welcomed experimental air-
plane builders like himself. And he wanted
the whole thing to be affordable so that any-
one with a yearning to learn to fly, and a little
time, could experience the exhilaration and
beauty of aviation.