Blogs > 37th Frame

Photography, notes, commentary and much more from former Reporter Online Editor Chris Stanley.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Flying Fortress

I was brought up on a steady diet of World War II movies and folklore, thanks to my father (who served in the Army after the war in the fifties). So when I got the chance to ride on a demonstration flight for the restored B-17 bomber "Liberty Belle" when it visited Chester County last week, I jumped at the chance to fly in this amazing plane. You can't overestimate how much this simple, sturdy bomber did to wreck the industrial might of the Axis powers and help us regain Europe.

One of the pilots, Ron Gause (above), from Atlanta, guided us through the history of this plane. Gause is semi-retired, but is part of a 12-person crew that flies the Liberty Belle around the country giving rides, ground tours and spending lots of time talking with anybody interested in the lively history of the B-17. The crew just returned from England where they spent time flying World War II veterans who actually flew these planes during the war.

They will continue to fly until November, then take a break until next year.
The Liberty Belle was actually made near the end of the war, and did not see action in Europe. It was used for a variety of purposes after the war, including as a platform for test equipment. At one point, the plane was split in two on the ground during a storm. The Liberty Foundation completely rennovated the plane (literally rescuing it from the scrap heap) to make it look as it would have during the war, right down to the machine guns (but no, they don't fire).

These views are from the bombardier's position, which is an unbelievable place to sit. We were flying over Chester County, roughly near Route 202 and Route 30.

The crew opened the top hatch, and we could stick our heads outside. But not too far, before the 160-mph wind caught your hair.

Some great movies featureing B-17's: "Twelve O'Clock High," "Tora Tora Tora," "Memphis Belle," "Flying Fortress," "The Best Years of our Lives," and there are others.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pond pirate

I witnessed this life-and-death (at least for the dragonfly) struggle at Stony Creek Park in Lansdale early this morning. My presence seemed to spook the bird enough that he abandoned his breakfast hunt long enough for the dragonfly to get away.

If you remember the cool photo that Mark Psoras took a couple of weeks ago of somebody kayaking on this pond, remember it fondly because these new signs have appeared:

I figured the algae-covered mush at the bottom of the pond would be enough to keep people from wading or swimming. Maybe I give them too much credit?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Good advice

Overheard from a recent conversation:
Bad idea to light the spray from a can of WD-40 like a blow torch to remove a bees nest from a wooden structure.
'Nuff said?

Monday, July 14, 2008

I forgot to mention the greatest improvement to our website last week...the weather now works.
Before the fix, the temperature was off by 20 or more degrees half the time, and no forecast was available. Now we got forecasts, conditions, temperatures, you don't need to look outside any more.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Tickets to see the Dalai Lama talk about Buddhism at the Verizon Center: $75.
Eternal one-ness with the cosmos? Priceless.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


There have been some changes here at The Reporter that will hopefully make the online experience much better for our readers.
First you may notice the pages load much, much faster. All the Philadelphia area newspapers in our group have moved over to the Zwire web servers. Zwire, owned by a company called Town News, operates web sites for hundreds of newspapers across the country. This means they're GOOD at it, with lots of server capacity and robust software.
They did not design The Reporter's site, nor do they provide content (we do!). Their job is simply to make sure the right data gets into the right slots and is accessible for our readers 24/7.
The other big change is the addition of a search function. Our readers have been asking (even begging) for this for the past couple of years, and now it's back.
More changes are planned, including a site re-design, in the upcoming months. The web site has become, for some readers, their primary source for local news. And while our site can serve as just an electronic version of the print product, it needs to be much more than that.
There is much hand-wringing in the newspaper industry over what will happen to journalism as the public migrates to new sources for their news. Ask a dozen 'experts' and you will probably get a dozen widely-varying opinions as to what a successful local news operation will look like in twenty years.
But for all the dark clouds hanging over every newsroom in the country, there is plenty of light on the horizon for those who can see it. I don't know what The Reporter, The Inquirer, Channel 6 or the New York Times will look like in twenty years. But I do know that if we are to stay vital to our community and readers, we have no choice but to keep looking toward that horizon and find new ways to reach out.
Have a great summer!