Posts tagged ‘Paul Frankhouser’

Buzzing the Stadium

DSC_4156 sm helicopter

The state troopers were good sports, and one of them even took my picture.

I got a little bored during the third quarter of the Penn State-Syracuse game this afternoon, so I decided to hop on a state police helicopter and go for a ride.

OK, that’s not exactly how it happened.

What happened was more like this: I’d been thinking that going along in the police helicopter while they’re monitoring game-day traffic might make interesting fodder for my column in our next issue. So earlier this week I called Annemarie Mountz ’84, manager of the news bureau in Public Information, because I remembered she had done something similar last year. (You can see her photos from that trip here. Note that she had gorgeous blue skies and sunshine for her ride, while today was cloudy and overcast. Not that I’m jealous or anything.)

DSC_3943 sm Eastview Terrace

The relatively new Eastview Terrace residence-hall complex, on East College Avenue.

Anyway, Annemarie put me in touch with Clifford Lutz ’75, who is assistant chief of University Police Services. He’s the guy who coordinates the game-day police operations, so he made arrangements for the state police to take me up.

I got to the stadium by 9:45 a.m., as instructed, but the helicopter wasn’t there yet—it had been diverted to an emergency in DuBois. So I hung around a while, went over to visit Paul Frankhouser’s famous tailgate, and strolled some of the other tailgates.

The alumni center. Ryan and Lori, I can see your offices!

The alumni center.

Eventually I called Asst. Chief Lutz (who I’m told spends the day on top of the press box roof) and he said it could be a while; he’d call me. So I went inside the stadium and joined some friends who happened to have an extra ticket today.

I saw most of the first half and part of the third quarter, while noting with dismay that it’s next to impossible to get cell phone service inside the stadium. That’s because 110,000 other people are texting and making calls and sending photos. I had visions of going home after the game and finding out that I missed the helicopter ride because they couldn’t reach me by phone.

And then partway through the third quarter I got a text message from Asst. Chief Lutz:

Sgt. Fox and Sgt. Cochran, the nicest state troopers you'd ever want to meet....

Sgt. Fox and Sgt. Cochran, the nicest state troopers you'd ever want to meet....

Ready to go in about 15?

So I jumped out of my seat, said goodbye to my friends, and hustled down to the grassy area near Jeffrey Field where the helicopters land. I met the two very nice state troopers who were piloting the thing, they gave me some instructions, and up we went.

I got a great aerial tour of campus, took 274 photos in approximately 20 minutes, learned a bit about what the state police helicopter detail does, and pretty much didn’t want it to end. (I never did get to see how they monitor traffic … maybe another time.)

Oh, and contrary to the title of this blog entry, we did not buzz the stadium—the state police really prefer not to fly directly over the stadium when the game is in progress. But they did take me close enough for some good photos.

By the way, I got to fly with my door open. Makes for better photos that way—and the exhilaration of having nothing but air between you all the sights can’t be beat.

I’ll have more to say about the whole experience in my column for our November-December issue. Unless I quit my job between now and then and go to helicopter-pilot school or something….

Tina Hay, editor

Update: You can see about a dozen of the aerial photos at or, if you’re really into it, a slide show of about 30 on


September 12, 2009 at 6:04 pm 15 comments

Now THIS is a Penn State Fan

DSC_3317 sm HummerYesterday morning, about five hours before the kickoff of the Akron game, I stepped outside my house to pick up my morning paper—just in time to see an unbelievably over-the-top, Penn State-themed Hummer pass by and head on up my street. I got only a quick glimpse, but I remember it was decked out in blue-and-white from front to back, top to bottom, with a sizable JoePa bobblehead figurine on the roof.

Before this season is over, I vowed, I’m gonna find that vehicle and get a photo of it.

Well, I didn’t have to wait too long. As it happens, I was headed out of town at game time—to Pittsburgh for a cookout at my sister’s—and I drove by the stadium on my way. It occurred to me to scan the tailgating fields for the Hummer, and sure enough, as I drove along Park Avenue Extension, I spotted it, right along the northeast edge of the stadium.

The blue-haired ventriloquist-type mannequin is new this year.

I pulled up to one of the cops who were keeping traffic from turning onto Porter Road, and asked if by any chance he would let me pull onto Porter and turn my four-way flashers on long enough to run over and get a picture of the Hummer. He thought about it, and to my shock, he said OK.

So I got a few photos, and I chatted briefly with the tailgaters who were guarding the whole Hummer operation—which, I discovered, includes not only the Hummer itself but a blue-haired mannequin, a lucky Penn State rock, and assorted other touches.

The guy turns out to have a whole Web site devoted to this project, and it’s been going on for a number of years—in fact he won the “Most Penn State Spirit” award in the Homecoming Tailgate Competition in 2003, 2004, and 2005. So you may well have seen his tailgate setup before.

DSC_3320 sm Paterno figurineOn the Web site, the guy behind the operation hints at his real identity, though as far as I can tell he doesn’t come right out and say who he is. But it doesn’t take too much Web sleuthing to figure it out: He says he is a mechanical engineering grad, was an Alumni Fellow in 2001, and is a past president of the Berks Campus Alumni Society. Looking at the list of 2001 Alumni Fellows, there were five engineering grads in that group, but only one from Berks: Paul Frankhouser ’65.

One of the nice things about Frankhouser’s tailgate and his Web site is his emphasis on welcoming the fans of visiting teams. His site talks about a “code of honor” and even includes a few letters from visiting-team fans who appreciated how well they were treated when they stopped by his tailgate.

If you want to visit the tailgate, he’s even got a map on his Web site showing you exactly where to find him. I need to stop by again myself—sometime when I don’t have the four-way flashers on and can spend a little time.

Tina Hay, editor

September 6, 2009 at 6:16 pm 1 comment

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