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Page 64
AUSTIN EXECUTIVE AIRPORT
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
R
on
W. H
enRiksen
Chapter 3
1973. Skydivers Greg "Smitty" Smith, Gary Trebbe, and Edward "Fast Eddy" Naylor as they approach the Austin
Parachute Center after a jump. Photo courtesy Patrick Sims.
served as an office, training area, and chute
packing shed. Clark Thurmond, two and
a half hours north in Waco, got wind of the
new jump center at Bird's Nest and imme-
diately talked a couple of jump buddies into
checking it out. One day not long after, the
crew arrived and jumped and jumped and
jumped, and thus began an odyssey that Clark
couldn't stop for the next thirty years.
Thereafter, Clark spent weekends at the
jump center and by early 1973 took over as
manager. A few months later, at the end of a
busy summer, Mike said he wanted out and
he offered Clark a deal: For five thousand
dollars he'd hand over the Center's most valu-
able assets--a stack of faded student training
harnesses, one soon-to-expire lease on a mar-
ginally sound fifty-by-fifty tin shed, and one
contract with the University of Texas Infor-
mal Class Program (which guaranteed about
180 impetuous, free-spirited students a year
at $39 a pop). There was also a modicum of
goodwill. The Center trained 300 or so walk-
ins a year at $49 each, and provided as many
as 10,000 jumps annually to experienced sky-
divers. All to say, there was no shortage of
demand for parachute jumping.