background image
Page 90
AUSTIN EXECUTIVE AIRPORT
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
R
on
W. H
enRiksen
Chapter 4
In short, demand for private hangars was
high, pilots wanted alternatives, and the FAA
judged Bird's Nest the perfect location for a
new airport. The entire region was growing
and as a bonus new State Highway 130 was
built to bypass congested I-35 through Aus-
tin. This new road routed drivers within a few
hundred yards of the airport. It was safe to
say that the Eagle Rock, LLC team was onto
something.
Meeting Number Two
In March 2007, Rick Winter e-mailed me
and asked to schedule a follow-up meeting.
He attached a PowerPoint document to the e-
mail, an update on the project complete with
an optimistic mission statement and executive
summary. There was also a long list of strate-
gies which, if implemented, promised to turn
Bird's Nest into a moneymaker. That was the
impression I got. As I reviewed the material,
what struck me was how much work it took
to get this far.
The information Rick sent was accurate
and interesting and detailed enough to give
me some substance. It contained a future vi-
sion that, once built, everyone involved would
feel good about having played a part in--
making the world a better place, at least for
pilots. And I suppose that if we were to give
that same handful of papers to a contingent
of competing politicians, nearby residents,
environmentalists, noise-o-phobes and oth-
ers who oppose airports on general principle,
we'd get another reaction. My point is that
airports don't materialize from snazzy Pow-
erPoint presentations or from the pros out-
weighing the cons or from undeniable need.
Airports don't come into being because they
promise a better tomorrow. Airports material-
ize because the will to build them is stronger
than the collective will of all the naysayers
who yearn to quash them. The document I
had in front of me was missing the page about
yearning wills and other intangibles that must
be addressed before putting shovel to dirt.
Rather than meet at the Houston Executive
Airport as we had previously, I invited Rick,
Tre, Dayle and a fourth, Tim Casey, out to my
home in Houston and we stood around the
dining room table sipping Dr. Pepper from
eight ounce bottles.
"What do you think?" I asked Rick, refer-
ring to the Dr. Pepper.
"Fine, fine," Rick said "Look, we've tried. I
won't waste your time with a lot of excuses, a
lot of explanations that don't change a thing.
Bottom line, we can't locate investors willing
to support the project."
"Don't think we didn't try," Tre said.
Rick was the numbers guy, costs and ex-
penses and forecasts. Tre and Dayle and Tim
deferred to him in subtle ways, which told
me this meeting was about the numbers. Rick
was fidgeting, impatient. He took up a handful
of papers, absently pinching the pages, glanc-
ing around the table, killing time, looking out
the large glass windows onto the front lawn,
at Tre and Dayle. He squeezed the papers in
his hand.
I turned to Rick. "Okay," I said. "What's on
your mind?"
"Right," Rick said. "The thing is..."