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AUSTIN EXECUTIVE AIRPORT
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
R
on
W. H
enRiksen
Chapter 2
1971. Steve Harless standing in front of his Cessna 170. Steve flew into Bird's Nest Airport from Killeen, Texas,
with a friend Stephen Martin on a weekend fun flight. Photo courtesy of Stephen Martin.
ing Club. The club leased a Cessna 150 from
a private owner, and students flocked to the
airport for flight training and cheap airtime.
A Culture of Challenge
Ray and Mary weren't like many small
operators. They acted more like benevolent
grandparents, the kind who encouraged, of-
ten challenged, the people to take a few risks,
to explore, to have some fun. You didn't put
on a wide-collared suit and tie to come fly a
Cesspit (the cynical nickname for a Cessna
150). You put on an old pair of comfortable
Levi's, a baseball jersey, a ball cap, and in the
winter months a jacket. Bird's Nest Airport
and its rustic atmosphere was made for the
1970s, a time of long hair and mutton chops
when people talked about world peace and
women's liberation.
Let's not forget music. Austin had blos-
somed as a refuge for anti-establishment coun-
try musicians and songwriters who wanted
nothing to do with Nashville. Willie Nelson
convinced fellow songwriter Waylon Jennings
to move to Austin and the two helped pioneer
the outlaw country movement in the 1970s, a
raw rootsy approach that appealed to rockers
and hardcore honky-tonk admirers. In some