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Page 93
AUSTIN EXECUTIVE AIRPORT
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
R
on
W. H
enRiksen
Chapter 4
Dayle Baldauf, Tre Deathe, Tim Casey, and
Rick Winter were waiting for us and we shook
hands and stood around the hood of my ol-
ive green Land Rover. I pulled out maps and
drawings and laid them flat on the warm hood,
and we talked about the layout. Tre pointed a
thumb over his shoulder at the flight office,
a boxy structure that exuded function over
form, and he talked about potential, fortuity,
lost opportunity. He implied that it was an
ugly building but wasn't falling down anytime
soon. He glanced at the dirt and gravel ramp
and then at the old Austin Parachute Center
on the other side of the ramp, a metal build-
ing reused a dozen times since 1983 when the
Center had left the airport.
"There's your runway," Tre said.
"Good thing you pointed it out," I said only
half joking. "It's a bit hard to tell it apart from
the weeds." Tre was standing beside me. I
turned and said, "Not much of a runway is
it?" This was an understatement, of course.
It was no more runway than the muddy ease-
ment road.
"For some years now," Tre said, "most pi-
lots land in the grass next to the runway. It's
smoother." He angled his chin at a worn patch
of flattened Bermuda.
The runway proper was a mixture of asphalt
for a few hundred feet at each end, a heav-
ing swath of crumbling asphalt and gravel in
the middle, and blocks of tenacious grassy
weeds overtaking everything else. Midway
down the taxiway I saw two lone corrugated
tin T-hangars and a frayed windsock high on
a rusted pole.
Reading my thoughts, Dayle said, "It looks
different on paper."
"On paper it looks like an airport," I said.
It was plausible that I should have asked
a few more questions before taking the leap.
Like, what about the condition of the property?
Or I might have asked about the neighbors,
the Zschiesches, who own the easement road
and all 367 acres to the east, south, and part
of the west, and who I'm told have a forty-two-
year festering animosity against the airport.
The chief bearer of such animosity was Mr.
Raymond John Zschiesche, who had passed
his feelings onto his wife, Otillie, who passed
the sentiment on to two sons, Jimmy Ray and
Louis Williams, and a daughter, Francine Her-
nandez, the current executor of the estate.
My experience is that forty-plus years of
bitterness can crimp an otherwise breezy ne-
gotiation and property sale. At the way other
end of the airport property lived Mrs. Audrey
Dearing, a woman in her seventies, if I'm any
judge of ages, which I'm not, and a nice per-
son by all accounts, but she and Otillie were
two peas in a pod, airport-wise--no fan of air-
ports, airplane noise, pilots, and airport build-
ers in general.
I didn't ask any of these questions, I sup-
pose, for a simple reason: I wanted to see it
for myself.
We climbed into the bed of a pickup and
someone, I can't remember who (Tim, I
think), took the wheel and eased across the
134-acre airport property, down the pitted
runway, round the rusted T-hangars, up close
to the ponds, and through a thicket of trees