Saturday, September 18, 2010

Miami University - Middletown Campus

I'm sure I'm not the first parent to go through this, nor will I be the last. I'm assured in my knowledge that I'm not the first because I put my parents through the same thing. When I was co-pilot Egg's age, I too had no idea where I wanted to go to college, or to be totally honest, whether I wanted to go at all. At that age it seems like you have done nothing but go to school; the prospect of even more doesn't really garner excitement. As with my father and me, I am the one pushing her to start planning for where she will matriculate next and what she wants to do with her life once forcibly ejected from the warm nest of public high school. When pressed, she vacillates between nursing, physical or mental therapy, and going pro on Facebook.

I think the latter is her preference.

I figure for at least the first two years of a four year program, there's not much difference between the core classes required for nursing or therapy. Anatomy, ethics, chemistry, and classes in managing third-party or government payers are foundational to both. With that in mind, I've been looking at nursing programs on her behalf. One of the locations I'm looking at is Miami University. To begin with, it satisfies the number one requirement: it's not THE Ohio $tate University. Egg has what I have taken to calling a Higher Education Donut Hole.  Much as with the "donut hole" more commonly referred to in reference to the Medicare Part D program, it refers to areas where coverage is available. It's actually an inverse donut hole: she has to go somewhere outside of Columbus but inside Ohio. Note that when I say "has to" that it's just like when I say she "has to" help mow the lawn; it by no means conveys any type of actual authority on my part to enforce such a command.


I flew out and visited the Miami University campus in Oxford Ohio last year and found it to be quite pleasant. Very collegiate, architecturally appropriate, and a few nice restaurants. I was more or less sold on the idea but further research showed that the nursing program is only offered at two regional campuses, one of which is in Middletown. I initially balked at that idea, thinking that there was no way we would pay that level of tuition only to have her attending classes miles from the town of Oxford. Once I looked a little further into it, though, I discovered that the tuition is commensurately lower at the regional campus.

Well then. Now you're talking my language!

Parallel to my thinking that I'd visit the campus this weekend, I was also trying to track down an outfit that offers dual instruction in a Stearman. Having lunched with Dr. Stan last week and gotten the idea into my head that I'd like to fly one at some point, I poked around on the internet for awhile trying to see where I'd have to go and what I'd have to pay to try it out.

At first it looked like I'd have to travel as far as Florida or Maryland and pay over $300 an hour for the experience (and that's not happening!!) but I eventually came across a link to Red Stewart airport. They have a Stearman that they offer dual in for around $200 an hour, including the instructor. Better yet, I could get a shorter ride for $80. That seemed perfect! Now I've been around the internet long enough to know that while web pages may last forever, the things offered on them may not. I first had to verify that they still had the Stearman. I happen to know of a flying blogger that does all of his flying out of Red Stewart and figured that surely he would have mentioned that Stearman at some point on his blog if it was still there. He had, and it is.

Red Stewart Airport is close to Middletown, so I thought I could combine a trip to Red Stewart for a flight in the Stearman with the flight to Middletown to visit the campus. Unfortunately, I had waited too long. When I called to book my flight in the Stearman, I was informed that the schedule was already full. Not to worry - they told me that they will fly on any day when the temps are over 45 degrees. I still have time to get it done.

Without the Red Stewart stop, I was able to fly direct to Middletown. That meant that I could take a flying buddy with me. There'd be a lot of walking (Google maps reported a walking distance of 2.2 miles each way from the airport to the campus) but I knew just the guy that would be thrilled to take a walk that long.

Middletown is southwest of Columbus, and our route took us directly over KilKare raceway where my brother races his Nascar Modified.

It was perfect flying weather. High pressure and reasonably low temperatures make the engine and the wings happy, and the clear, smooth skies and calm air make the pilot happy. These conditions are perfect for flying, but they do present a challenge. With no wind to speak of, uncontrolled airports become difficult to operate in and out of because there is no clear deciding factor regarding which runway to use. That, and they bring out a lot of traffic.

To make matters worse, Middletown is in a region that I don't much like flying through anyway; there are quite a few airports in the area, both large and small. Traffic becomes a big issue in that area no matter what the weather. Middletown also presents its own unique challenge in that they use left traffic for runway 5, but right traffic for runway 23. What that means is that pilots flying the right downwind for 23 are on the same side of the airport and heading directly at pilots flying the left downwind for runway 5. With the winds being reported as "calm," there is a very real risk of a head on collision on downwind if two pilots choose differently on the question of which runway is preferred.

And if that's not enough, there is a high-end sky diving outfit that operates there. They're up and down all day in a pair of Cessna Caravans, dropping jumpers right on the middle of the airport. The end result of all this is that Cabot and I would have to be on the lookout for large jets, airplanes headed right at us on downwind (and, by extension, on the runway), and falling human bodies. Wow! That's a lot of responsibility for a nine month old puppy!

As we were approaching the airport a twin Cessna reported something or the other having to do with runway 23, which was concerning given that we were entering the downwind to runway 5. The Unicom was a nightmare of the high pitched squeals of two radios transmitting at once and a long-winded individual telling his life's story as he worked his way laboriously through a landing at Blue Ash, so the second half of the Cessna's transmission was lost to me.  I tried to get the guy to answer my "What did you say???" calls, but he was oblivious. It all worked out and the landing was uneventful other than being a bit bouncy.

I blame Cabot. He stares at me. It's discomfiting.

 Just after we landed, some of the parachuters did too.

The walk to the campus had been planned for me by Google Maps, which has a "find a way for me to get there by foot" function.

I had used the Google StreetView feature to determine that there were sidewalks the entire way. I've often found that what looked like an easy walk on the map is anything but because it ends up being on a narrow, busy road with no sidewalks. This walk was 90% through residential neighborhoods. Cabot was very well behaved on the leash.

As we walked, I evaluated the neighborhood as a place for Egg to live. The regional campus does not have dorms; if she elected to go to school there, she would have to have a place to live. That might work out well; I saw this well-groomed house for sale.

They're asking $82,500 for it. Buy it with a 20% downpayment on a 30 year fixed and the payment is $350 per month, plus insurance and the like. A roommate could halve that cost. Four years down the road, sell it. Would that be cheaper that living in an apartment or a dorm at some other school? Maybe. It seemed worth thinking about, and that's exactly what I was doing until I was distracted by this sign.

Really?? "Your juvenile judge?" We haven't got enough juveniles in government already?

It was a pretty long walk, so it came as a great relief when I finally saw this sign. Cabot was equally thrilled when I read it to him.

The walk was up a fairly steep hill at that time, and at the crest of the hill we found our goal.

Our climb up the hill was wasted; the campus road heads right back down. The first sign of being on a campus was this statue.

How was that statue an indication that we were on a college campus? Easy, it was there because the subject was a rich man that gave huge amounts of money and/or land to the university. Had we been in a public park, it would have been a politician that had done the same, albeit with someone else's money.

We worked our way down the hill and past the university buildings.

When we reached the bottom of the hill, I realized two things. First, in twenty-first century America our civilization has advanced to the degree that we no longer provide publicly-accessible water fountains. Cabot was panting up a storm and seemed very, very thirsty. I had brought a plastic bag with me to fill with water to give him a drink, but had come across no source of water. My second realization was that we had reached a dead end.

The prospect of retracing our steps to the top of the hill was not pleasant. I decided to keep going on a gravel path that continued on past the end of the paved road and see if it looped back around to where we had come it. Luckily, by doing so I discovered water!

I ran some water into the bag for Cabot to drink from, but he refused to do it. Nothing but tap water will do for him, I suppose.


We kept going and soon found a trail that looked like it headed back up to the road we had climbed earlier.

It did, and a little more than half an hour later we were back at the airport. I had packed a fabric fold-up water bowl for Cabot and a bottle of tap water to pour into it. He was much more receptive of that! Spoiled rotten, I figure.

Oh, and I was taunted about my failure to get a ride in a Stearman. For the second time in as many weeks, I was sharing the ramp with one.

He didn't share the panache that Dr. Stan had. Somehow blue hearing protectors just aren't the same as a leather helmet and jacket. Still, it sure looks like fun!

Cabot was one tired puppy, but he stayed awake long enough to enjoy the flight home.

Once we got home, though, there was only one place he wanted to be.

I soon joined him.

1 comment:

  1. Great photos and I enjoyed the write-up, too. It's not too far from me but I've never seen the MU-Middletown campus before - looks like a decent place.

    One thing that MWO is fun for is short field landings when the wind's out of the west. I think the first taxiway on 23 is about 400 feet past the threshold. Makes for fun times!