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Page 49
AUSTIN EXECUTIVE AIRPORT
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
R
on
W. H
enRiksen
Chapter 2
aircraft engine know-how he could cram into
his head.
In the summer of 1978, Ray put him to
work part-time as an aircraft mechanic where
he eventually earned an aviation mechanic's
license. What Dave didn't know was that the
shop hangar was a zone of competing personal
dynamics. Ray was inventive, creative, a man
who moved fast and left a mess of tools and
parts in his wake. He saved things, anything,
because you never knew what you'd need some
day, and his side of the shop looked like a junk-
yard. JB, on the other hand, was a meticulous,
conscientious toolman. He reasoned things
out before he started a repair. He cleaned his
tools and his work area, and he arranged com-
ponents where he could find them when it was
time to turn a couple of hundred fragments
into a single, coordinated aircraft.
An Easy Sale
Selling aircraft at Bird's Nest didn't happen
often, but it did happen.
In December 1978, Keith Peshak ambled
into the Bird's Nest Airport flight office and
had a look around. Mary turned on the charm
and convinced him to take an introductory
flight with Dennis Christian. Three minutes
into the flight, Keith knew what he wanted: his
own airplane. He started flight lessons, loved
the feel of hovering above ground and, as an
engineer, he especially liked the logic of flying
from A to B without following the nonsensical
highway system which only rarely connected
the dots of his business trips. As a consultant,
Keith routinely traveled to Dallas, San Anto-
nio, Houston or other smaller towns across
the massive state. What could be better than
making a beeline here to there and floating
into town under his own power in his own air-
plane? Not three months into flight training,
Keith made an offer on a spanky new Cessna
152, the one taking up tie-down space on the
ramp out front and that looked new. As a Cess-
na dealer, Ray was expected to sell an aircraft
every once in a while, and Keith was the first
new sale anyone could remember. He paid
$19,000 for a brand new two-seat, 100-horse-
power aircraft.
Ray was giddy with his own good luck. He
reached into a drawer behind the counter and
handed Keith a set of keys. "Go on," he said,
motioning to the door.
"I don't have my license yet."
"Who said anything about flying?" Ray gave
him a cagey look. "Sit inside, start her up, take
in the smell before the new wears off."
So Keith marched out to the ramp and
straight for the polished 152 with the green
stripe, and he got ten feet from his new air-
plane when a giant long-necked goose the size
and shape of a pot-bellied stove appeared and
honked and made lunging motions with her
neck. The sight of the goose startled Keith so
much that he didn't move, which is when the
goose waddled forward and, after a couple of
misses, pecked Keith hard in the groin.
Keith retreated to the flight office where
Ray, thankfully, was absent, and he turned to
Mary fully expecting some unmerited sympa-
thy. Only Mary wasn't in the mood for sympa-
thy. "I saw what happened," she said.