AOPA Pilot Magazine
August 2007 Volume 50 / Number 8
Clermont County, Batavia, Ohio
Mention Batavia, Ohio, to the average Joe outside of Ohio and you'll probably get a quizzical look. Mention it to a pilot and he will quickly recognize the small village east of Cincinnati as the final resting point for the contents of his wallet. The Clermont County Airport near Batavia is the home of The Sportsman's Market, parent company of a family of catalogs but best known by pilots for Sporty's Pilot Shop.
Most pilots visit the Clermont County Airport as an excuse to fly. After all, many pilots need a destination and — admit it or not — pilots like to shop for gadgets. What better excuse to fly than to go to Sporty's, try out the latest must-have gadget or doodad with your own hands, and save on the shipping if you do decide to buy? Need further prodding? Come on a Saturday and get a free hot dog during lunch hours. And for the non-pilots, all the contents found in other Sporty's catalogs (Preferred Living, Tool Shop, Wright Bros. Collection, Men's Collection) can be had here, making it a shopping destination for varied interests.
If Batavia's small-town charm doesn't suit you, Cincinnati, Ohio, is only about 20 miles west and has all the amenities of a large city — luxury hotels, nice restaurants, professional sports, and lots of cultural activities.
What to do
Besides the shopping potential, the Clermont County Airport has lots of other activities for pilots and their passengers. A must-see is the Tri-State Warbird Museum on the west side of the field. Here, visitors will find a Boeing Stearman, TBM Avenger, and North American T-6, B-25J, and P-51D models. All of these airplanes are in flyable condition. The museum recently acquired a Goodyear FG-1D Corsair that it will restore over the next several years. It was one of the airplanes used in the filming of the television show, Baa Baa Blacksheep, in the late 1970s. The museum has several other attractions including a working Link trainer, widely accepted as the first practical IFR flight simulator.
In front of Sporty's there's an on-site picnic shelter in the event of good weather. Adjacent to the shelter are facilities for lawn sports such as tetherball, sand volleyball, horseshoes, Frisbee golf, and bocce ball. After your picnic, take a look at the new homes being built as part of Sandy's Farm, the airport's residential airpark in the northwest corner of the field. Sporty's founder (and airport rat), Hal Shevers, gave me a tour of one of the homes, starting with the hangar of course. The gleaming floor in the heated and air-conditioned hangar was so clean it shimmered like a freshly resurfaced skating rink. Attached to the hangar is the largest two-bedroom home I've seen. It features a to-die-for home theater setup in the basement. The upscale homes are targeted at empty-nester pilots. Also on that side of the airport is a new crew lounge/flight planning room with restroom facilities so that residents of the Sandy's Farm and tenants in the nearby T-hangars can get the latest weather picture without having to go to the other side of the field.
Also on the airport to whet a pilot's appetite for airplane modification is Air Mod, the shop that has restored and reengineered the interior of several AOPA sweepstakes airplanes from 1970s' eyesores to beautiful, safe, and practical living quarters. Cincinnati Avionics is just across the runway from Air Mod and will gladly perform an avionics or instrument panel upgrade for you.
Sporty's has a courtesy car available on a first-come, first-served basis. Batavia is the county seat of Clermont County but it is basically a bedroom community whose residents commute to Cincinnati to work. Within about five miles of the airport there is a shopping mall, putt-putt golf course, and a go-kart track to satisfy varying tastes. East Fork State Park is a popular attraction for camping, hiking, boating, fishing, and biking. On weekends, the Red Barn Flea and Antique Market offers shopping, food, live entertainment, and even a motocross track. Golfers may want to try three local courses open to the public, Stonelick Hills, Elks Run, and Cedar Trace.
Of course, if you need more activity than the airport and Batavia can supply, pick up a rental car from the FBO and head into Cincinnati. Along the Ohio River, there are plenty of activities depending on the weather and season. Catch a Reds game at The Great American Ballpark along the river or head to Kings Island amusement park northeast of town. Cincinnati has everything from art museums to zoos and a vibrant waterfront area full of restaurants.
Where to eat
On the field, hot and cold food can be found in the numerous vending machines inside Sporty's on the second floor. Off campus, there are many fast food and chain restaurants within about four miles. For a little local flavor, try Skyline Chili or Gold Star Chili for their Cincinnati-style chili, which is served over spaghetti noodles. Many more upscale restaurants are available in Cincinnati. A favorite for me is the Montgomery Inn, an upscale rib and barbecue restaurant (not an oxymoron in this case) with three locations in the Cincinnati area. The Boathouse restaurant's location overlooking the Ohio River is the most scenic.
Where to stay
There are several chain hotels within a short drive of the Clermont County Airport. See AOPA's Airport Directory for information. For more upscale hotels, Cincinnati provides more options.
Clermont County (I69) has a 3,568-foot runway at an elevation of 844 feet. The airport is quite busy with flight training activity. Cincinnati's Class B airspace begins just a stone's throw west of the field and the airport is within the 30-nm Mode-C transponder veil. IFR arrivals from the west can expect some vectoring or reroutes from Cincinnati approach. Arrivals from the east can expect the same if the Buckeye Military Operations Area is active. There are two RNAV (GPS) approaches, as well as VOR and NDB procedures. The lowest of these approaches will get you to 500 feet agl and one mile visibility.
Once there, Eastern Cincinnati Aviation will likely park you in front of the Sporty's building in either a tiedown spot or in transient spots directly in front of Sporty's. Flight planning computers and materials are available upstairs in the Sporty's building as is wireless Internet access. They even have a live Doppler radar feed from Cincinnati's ABC-affiliated television station. There is a clearance-delivery frequency on the field, however, I had to try both radios and reposition my airplane on the airport to get an answer. After-hours arrivals can expect to be met by a security guard who patrols the field every night. Don't worry; he's most likely there to help put your airplane to bed.