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Page 82
AUSTIN EXECUTIVE AIRPORT
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
R
on
W. H
enRiksen
Chapter 3
Falling Apart Piece by Piece
With the jump center gone, Bird's Nest
Airport couldn't survive. Instead, the airport
eroded, crumbling in increments too small
and inconsequential to catalogue with any ac-
curacy, grinding itself, not unlike shaping a
crag of limestone, say a soft Cordova cream,
from angular to round to flat and always small-
er, watching it waste away to dust.
The Environmental Protection Agency
forced Jerry to dig up the two aviation fuel
tanks. Afterward, he stopped selling fuel and
salvaged the fuel truck for pennies. In 2002,
the tower burned down. Ray and Mary's
home made from telephone poles evapo-
rated, according to the Manor Messenger,
as twenty men from the Manor Fire Depart-
ment and three from the Pflugerville Fire De-
partment did what they could to keep people
and airplanes safe as the tower and attached
shop hangar burned. The airport was free of
unsightly fire hydrants, so firefighters filled
water tankers at nearby Manor High School
and hauled them back and forth over the
gouged dirt road and gave the flames a good
dousing. Seven and a half hours later it was
over. All traces of the Hardings, except for
the irregular scar of gravel angled across the
property, were gone--a dream weathered by
thirty-seven years of sun and rain and wind
and laughter. Bird's Nest Airport finally sur-
rendered to the fire, and all was scattered to
the four winds.
Still, a few pilots hung on.
Jerry had put up a couple of T-hangars
years earlier and the spaces rented out cheap,
mostly to aircraft owners who had long since
lost interest in flying with a once loved bro-
ken-down airplane that would never be flown
again. Michael Murphy parked his Beech
Musketeer; Holton O. Harvey had his Ca-
pella Classic there; Richard Marchant found
a place for his Mooney; Steve Burns and Rio
Tenango rented space, as did Jack Mayber-
ry and Mike Green and Don S. Arsenault (a
man who a few years in the future would raise
a stink when he towed a banner in his 1965
Cessna 150F over the University of Texas
campus that read, "Hey Mack, quit whining.
U knew the rules," (referring to the football
team's head coach's complaints about a recent
ranking that put Texas behind Oklahoma).
On it went. Tin buildings rusted. Once shiny
locks tarnished and rusted shut. Hinges re-
fused to move. Each year more of the runway
disappeared and knapweed and cheatgrass
took over, and it appeared to those few who
knew the tiny landlocked airstrip still existed
that it was on hold waiting for its next reincar-
nation, whatever that might be.