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Page 85
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
W. H
Chapter 4
facturers and suppliers. If all this sounded a
bit too easy, well, that's what these kinds of
meetings were about: to make the complex
appear simple, the circuitous direct, and the
outrageously expensive a bargain at twice the
price. And before anyone had a chance to rain
on this aviation parade, Tre or someone (my
memory is hazy here) said the whole thing
should come in at just under $47.3 million.
I smiled and said I liked the idea. I even of-
fered a suggestion or two I knew would be ig-
nored or forgotten, as all good advice offered
in these moments of optimism are, and I said
I wished them luck.
That was not the end of it.
Several months later I got a call. This time
it was from Rick Winter asking if the group
might visit again and have a direct talk. In those
weeks after that initial meeting, I learned a
thing or two about Eagle Rock, LLC and a lot
about the project. Tre and Rick were pilots,
this much I knew. Tre owned a thriving appli-
ance repair and service center in Austin and
Rick was a well-respected local realtor, the
kind of professional numbers cruncher you
want on your side at the closing table. Dayle,
not a pilot, the oldest of the group and gray-
haired, a former geologist for Shell Oil, and a
commercial realtor and appraiser, had been
in the real estate game for many years.
Fact was, Dayle had a long history with
Bird's Nest Airport. In 1998 he and a partner,
Doug Hearne, who ran a flight school at Rob-
ert Mueller Municipal Airport, realized that
Mueller's days were numbered and believed
Bird's Nest a viable investment and a darn
good location for a flight school. Dayle gave
Jerry Kahlbau a ring and the two met at Café
290 in Manor, a homestyle diner originally
built from leftover Army barracks borrowed
from Camp Swift in Bastrop. Since then, the
place had been remodeled half a dozen times;
it now consisted of wide pine floors, low ceil-
ings, and walls plastered with roadhouse
memorabilia, a better place than most to dis-
cuss real estate. Dayle ordered chicken fried
steak with extra gravy, a large iced tea, sweet.
Jerry ordered coffee and couldn't decide be-
tween a slice of lemon meringue or double
cream blueberry pie.
After the waitress, a cutie in faded Wran-
glers with holes at the knees, hustled off to
the kitchen, Dayle asked, "How do you feel
about carrying paper?"
"About like you'd think," Jerry said, half
smiling or possibly wincing, it was hard to tell.
His lemon meringue arrived and he scooped
up a forkful of white fluffy stuff and put it
in his mouth. "Might, though, if the price
was right."
"I'm willing to pay what's fair," Dayle said.
"Of course you will," Jerry said.
And on it went. They ate and talked and
drank sweet tea and black coffee and by late
afternoon had cut a deal. Two hundred thou-
sand down, and Jerry agreed to carry paper
for the balance.
Dayle had finished eating and played with
his food, separating bits of potato from gra-
vy with his knife. "For this to work," he said,
"I'll need Lew Adams next door there to go
along. I need access to the new toll road and
he's got it."