Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Temporary casino opens at Fonner Park, Nebraska

Grand Island Casino Resort opened its temporary casino facility on Tuesday at a ribbon-cutting ceremony with several state and local officials in attendance.

A line started to form early in the morning for the opening. Guests had a chance to enjoy refreshments while waiting for the casino doors to open.

Fonner Park CEO Chris Kotulak and Elite Casino Resorts CEO Dan Kehl delivered remarks before guests entered the casino.

“We are excited to partner with Fonner Park to add this temporary casino and, ultimately, a first-class casino resort to this race track,” said Dan Kehl, CEO of Elite Casino Resorts.

“The introduction of casino revenue puts us on a path of regenerating a once thriving thoroughbred racing industry in Nebraska,” said Fonner Park CEO Chris Kotulak.

The temporary casino is in the concourse of Fonner Park adjacent to the Van Berg Racing Collection and the Nebraska Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame display. The temporary facility features approximately 300 slot machines, kiosks for horse betting, and a snack bar. The casino will operate until the full resort is completed.

Future permanent resort plan

Construction on the full resort, including a 37,000-square-foot casino, is expected to begin in the fall of 2023. The resort will feature 650 slot machines, 20 table games (including blackjack and craps), a sportsbook, and four dining options. Dining will include a Ruthie’s Steak & Seafood restaurant.

The resort will also provide live entertainment at a show lounge, sports bar, a 116-room hotel, a salon and spa, a gift shop, indoor and outdoor pools, and 400 vehicle parking garage.

Grand Island Casino is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. until midnight Sunday through Thursday and until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Top 25 online slot games for December

A monthly report published by research and consulting firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming (EKG) shows six new slot games have placed in the top 25 for December. The report is compiled based on game performance data captured from online casino sites across Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and West Virginia.

New slots tracked in the list of 25 include:

  • Lightning Blaze, by Light & Wonder
  • Ted, by White Hat Studios
  • 5x A Winner, by Design Works Gaming
  • Wild Hot Chilli Reels, by Evolution
  • Thor Infinity Reels, by Reel Play
  • Dragon Treasure Pearls, by Konami

Based in Irvine, Calif., EKG recently released a page from their performance report showing only the top 25 slots. Known officially as Eilers-Fantini Online Game Performance Report, the full report is available on the company's website.

Focusing on the top five, Lightning Blaze by Light & Wonder is ranked No. 1 after having no previous ranking in past reports.

Lightning Blaze was released exclusively via Paddy Power Betfair and Pokerstars for two weeks from Aug. 17 before its general release, according to an article by iGaming Future.

Lightning Box Games then announced on Oct 28 through Facebook that Lightning Blaze was available exclusively in Michigan through BetMGM. The game is now available at online casinos in Michigan, New Jersey, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

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Following Lightning Blaze is Molten Hot 7s from Design Works Gaming (previously ranked No. 3), Slingo Shark Week from Gaming Realms (previously ranked No. 9), Split Dragon from High 5 Games (previously ranked No. 18), and Deal Or No Deal Megaways Golden Case from White Hat Studios (no previous ranking in past reports.).

Thirteen manufacturers are represented in the top 25 slot games listed. Everi and Light & Wonder appear the most with four games each; Evolution and White Hat Studios, three games each; Design Works Gaming and Gaming Realms, two games each; AGS, High 5 Games, IGT, Inspired, Konami, Reel Play, and 4ThePlayer, one game each.

Lightning Blaze

Coming in at #1, Lightning Blaze is a progressive jackpot game. You win by lining up three to five matching symbols. This 3x5-reel slot screen will have you looking to hit those Wild 7 multipliers for big wins. Wild symbols substitute for all other symbols apart from a scatter and higher wilds. Hit on six or more lightning bolt scatter symbols and trigger the exciting Lightning Respin feature in the game. You can bet $0.40 to $100 per spin and win combos on 40 paylines. The game has a mini, minor, major, and grand jackpot that reaches $125,000. The game even has an animated handle that pulls down with each spin, for all you old-school players.

Molten Hot 7s

Looking for a hot machine in your local online casino? There is nothing “cool” about the Molten Hot 7s slot game sitting at #2 on the EKG chart. This is a classic three-reel game with massive prize potential. The slot is packed with 27 paylines and two progressive jackpots. This is a well-established fiery game online and in land-based casinos. It’s a simple three-reel screen with wild symbols to help boost your win lines. The game's volatility has been reported as medium with a Return-To-Player (RTP) rating of 96.6%. Bets range between $0.25 to $200 per spin. While playing, you'll notice the jackpots at the top of the screen increase with each spin preparing for a big win if you hit it.

Slingo Shark Week

With five bonus games and a shark wheel giving you the chance to play enhanced bonus rounds, it’s time to dive right in and sink your teeth into this jaw-biting adventure called Slingo Shark Week. Coming in at #3 in December, get ready to be hooked on the fun in this game. Spin the reel to match numbers off the grid. Landing Wilds and Super wilds allow you to click on the grid to choose which number to mark off. Mark five numbers in a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal row to get a Slingo. Completing five or more Slingos awards a cash prize and then the chance to play one of the bonus rounds. This game has an RTP of 95.36%.

Split Dragon

Released in 2014, Split Dragon comes in at #4 on the list. The Orange Dragon is the key symbol in this game. The main aim is to try and line up as many Orange Dragons as possible on the five reels and 40 paylines this game offers. The Orange Dragons can appear in both single and double form, giving you the chance to lining-up 10 dragons on a pay-line. Bets in this game range from $0.40 to $2,000 per spin. The theoretical RTP for the game is 96.5%. The other main symbol to watch out for is the Golden Dragon Bonus Symbol. Hit three of these on reels two, three, or four and you'll trigger the free games bonus round of seven free games.

Deal Or No Deal Megaways Golden Case

Can you guess the correct case and unlock the golden one? Deal Or No Deal Megaways Golden Case is a six-reel smash hit slot featuring up to 117,649 ways to win as well as cascading symbols that can trigger one of three Deal Or No Deal bonus rounds or the all-new Golden Case bonus. The game has an RTP of 95.99% and is available online in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, according to game developer White Hat Studios. Bets range from $0.10 to $10.00 per spin. Achieving seven or more consecutive winning cascades, or revealing The Golden Case icon from the final case in Mega Deal or No Deal, awards The Golden Case bonus.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Sikorsky increases production of new CH-53K helicopter

The US Navy approved full-rate production of the Sikorsky CH-53K helicopter on Friday, a decision that is expected to increase production to more than 20 helicopters annually in the coming years.

“Ramping up production of the most technologically advanced helicopter in the world allows the U.S. Marine Corps to build out its CH-53K King Stallion fleet,” said Bill Falk, director of the Sikorsky CH-53K program. Sikorsky is a Lockheed Martin company.

A network of more than 200 suppliers across 35 states supports the CH-53K program.

The Marine Corps’ approved acquisition objective is 200 aircraft.

In October 2020, the CH-53K program had five aircraft on the line at Sikorsky facilities in Connecticut and over two dozen in various stages of production.

The Corps declared Initial Operational Capability for the CH-53K helicopter in April, validating the platform’s operational readiness to forward deploy Marines and equipment across the globe.

Production through 2032 and beyond

The CH-53K is a multi-mission helicopter with heavy-lift capabilities that exceed all other U.S. Department of Defense rotary wing aircraft and is the only heavy-lift helicopter that will remain in production through 2032 and beyond. The CH-53K can carry a 27,000-pound external load over 110 nautical miles, which is more than triple the external load-carrying capacity of the legacy CH-53E aircraft.

The CH-53K King Stallion is designed to conduct expeditionary assault transport of armored vehicles, equipment, and personnel to support distributed operations deep inland from a sea-based center of operations. The aircraft can also support humanitarian relief, firefighting, and search and rescue.

Rep. Lofgren appointed lead Democrat for science, space, and technology committee

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) has been selected by the House Democratic Caucus to be the ranking member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee in the 118th Congress.

Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) welcomed the appointment in a press release.

“Congresswoman Lofgren has been a longtime friend and colleague, has served on this committee for many years, and has been integral to moving forward key legislation to improve our scientific enterprise,” Johnson said. “I’m also very glad that the lead Democrat of the committee will continue to be an example to rising generations that women belong in places of leadership and science.”

The committee has exclusive jurisdiction over NASA, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The committee also has authority over research and development activities at the Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency,  Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service, and the Department of Homeland Security.

“I intend to work in a bipartisan manner to continue to improve the speed of scientific research, strengthen domestic manufacturing, and support our nation’s scientific and space enterprises,” Lofgren said.

Lofgren is also a member of the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot

Thursday, December 22, 2022

New Mexican airline to begin service in first quarter of 2023

Mexico's new regional airline Aerus has purchased two Cessna SkyCourier and four Cessna Grand Caravan EX aircraft from Textron, Inc. The airline recently took delivery of the first three Grand Caravan EX turboprops.

The aircraft are designed and manufactured by Textron Aviation Inc.

“Both aircraft offer superior performance and low operating costs in combination with flexibility in cabin and payload,” said Marcelo Moreira, vice president of Sales, Latin America region, Textron Aviation.

Based in Monterrey, Mexico, Aerus will cover unserved national and international routes in order to meet the needs of its customers.

“When we looked at options within the market to operate the routes we had in mind, it was a no-brainer decision to choose the Grand Caravan EX and the SkyCourier from Textron Aviation, which will be the cornerstone of the Aerus project,” said Javier Herrera, CEO, Aerus. “We are very proud to be one of the first operators of the new SkyCourier.”

Aerus is part of Grupo Herrera, which has 80 years of experience in the automotive, financial, and real estate industries, and has had an air taxi permit since 1990. The company plans to begin its airline operations in the first quarter of 2023.

Cessna SkyCourier

Built for high utilization operations, the Cessna SkyCourier is a twin-engine, high-wing, large-utility turboprop offered in both cargo and passenger variants. The efficient 19-passenger variant includes crew and passenger doors for smooth boarding.

Cessna Grand Caravan EX

The Grand Caravan EX turboprop was engineered for challenging missions, high and short payloads, and rough runways. It can carry up to 14 occupants with an increased speed and climb capability and offers low operating costs.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

RCI Hospitality Holdings buys a restaurant, taproom, and video game arcade in Colorado

RCI Hospitality Holdings, Inc. announced Wednesday they have purchased a restaurant and taproom in Greenwood Village, Colo. The location is a full-service bar, brewery, and video game arcade. The purchase is part of the company's planned expansion in the greater Denver area.

“Consideration paid was $5.2 million, consisting of $1.875 million in cash and a five-year, 6.67% bank financing note with a 25-year amortization,” the company said in a press release.

The popular 12,500-square-foot food hall offers sushi, Italian sandwiches, Korean dumplings, Mexican dishes, pizza, and Mediterranean specialties. The restaurant is located at 6575 Greenwood Plaza Boulevard.

The plan is to add a mini Bombshells kitchen featuring its famous wings and salads as well as many of its popular appetizers and use the brewery to create its own, signature craft beers for sale in other RCI locations to further differentiate its brands in Colorado.

RCI recently announced the acquisition of sites in Aurora for a Bombshells restaurant and Central City for a Rick's Cabaret Steakhouse and Casino, adding to the company's five adult nightclubs in Denver.

Potential upside in stock shares

Shares of RCI Hospitality Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: RICK) were trading in the $95 range on Wednesday following the restaurant acquisition news. Stock shares have gained 4.6% over the past four weeks.

In an article on Tuesday, Zacks Equity Research says “there could be plenty of upside left in the stock if short-term price targets set by Wall Street analysts are any guide. The mean price target of $122.67 indicates a 35.4% upside potential."

Monday, December 19, 2022

Nevada casino will open two safes that have been locked for 40 years

Nevada's longest-operating casino is offering an exciting look at its history with the opening of two safes that have been locked for the last 40 years. DeSimone Gaming's Railroad Pass Casino in Henderson, Nev., will display the historic findings from the safes on Dec. 29.

The event will kick off at 3:00 p.m. with a champagne toast and reception.

"Because of the vault room's space limitations, the actual openings will be live-streamed into the casino,” DeSimone said in a press release. DeSimone Gaming's founder, Joe DeSimone will open the safes.

Festivities will continue throughout the day culminating with the dedication of a new time capsule at 5:00 p.m. To maintain its place in Nevada's history, artifacts will be included from the Boulder City Council, Henderson City Council, Boulder City Historical Society, Boulder City Chamber of Commerce, Hoover Dam, and DeSimone Gaming. It will be opened in 2048, allowing future generations a look at life today.

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Saturday, December 17, 2022

Wallops launch may be visible from US East Coast

Rocket Lab will launch its Electron rocket from Virginia in January. Rocket Lab has already conducted 32 Electron launches from their launch site in New Zealand. This will be their first Electron launch from the United States.

The mission, named “Virginia is for Launch Lovers,” will deploy radio frequency monitoring satellites for HawkEye 360. The 59-foot-tall Electron rocket will lift off from Launch Complex 2 at Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island.

Weather permitting, residents throughout much of the US East Coast could get a glimpse of the rocket launch in the night sky after launching from Wallops Island. Viewers from southern Maine, down to Georgia, and as far west as Kentucky, may see the Wallops launch.

Viewing locations on Chincoteague Island include Robert Reed Park on Main Street or Beach Road spanning the area between Chincoteague and Assateague Islands. The Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware beaches also provide good viewing locations. The NASA Visitor Center at Wallops will be open for the launch.

The US Post Office in Assawoman is a popular viewing location for a Wallops launch. The Post Office is just a few miles from Wallops Island.

This is the first Electron launch from Wallops and the first-ever use of the jointly-developed Pegasus automated flight termination system for U.S. Electron launches derived from NASA’s Autonomous Flight Termination Unit (NAFTU). The FAA has approved both NAFTU and Pegasus to support this flight, and the NASA Wallops Range Safety team has verified Rocket Lab has met all NASA launch range safety criteria to move forward with launch operations.

HawkEye 360 satellite constellation

The “Virginia is for Launch Lovers” mission will deploy three satellites for HawkEye 360, Inc., based in Herndon, Va. The three satellites, known as Cluster 6, will monitor and deliver precise geolocation of radio frequency (RF) emissions anywhere in the world and map their locations.

This is the first of three dedicated Rocket Lab flights contracted by HawkEye 360.

We’re proud to be a Virginia-based company, with Virginia-developed technology, launching out of the Virginia spaceport,” said HawkEye 360 CEO John Serafini in a company press release.

The launch of Cluster 6 will mean HawkEye 360 will have placed 15 next-generation satellites into orbit within two years. This rapid pace will continue in 2023, with Cluster 7 anticipated to launch in February and Clusters 8 and 9 mid-year. Once Cluster 6 is commissioned, HawkEye 360 will be able to collect RF data as frequently as every hour anywhere in the world.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Navy will recover wreckage of aircraft that crashed in Mutiny Bay

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the U.S. Navy will recover the wreckage of the DHC-3 Turbine Otter that crashed on Sept. 4 off Whidbey Island, Washington, the NTSB said Friday.

The main recovery effort to raise the wreckage is expected to begin on Sept. 26.

The U.S. Navy will use the Deep Drone 8000 remotely operated vehicle (ROV), a barge and a crane to recover the wreckage from the seafloor. Once the barge is outfitted and in place, it will be a 24/7 operation. The crane will lift the aircraft wreckage pieces. The ROV will work on the seafloor collecting smaller pieces of wreckage into baskets and connecting the wreckage to the crane to be lifted.

NTSB also released a preliminary report for the investigation. The report contains facts only; the NTSB will determine the probable cause of the crash at the end of the investigation.

According to the preliminary report, the aircraft departed from Friday Harbor, Washington, around 2:50 p.m. Pacific time, with a destination of Renton Municipal Airport. At 3:09 p.m., the aircraft impacted the water and sank. The pilot and nine passengers were fatally injured.

The airplane was operating as a business charter flight. The accident occurred during the pilot’s second trip of the day. Each trip involved multiple flight legs.

Witnesses near the accident site reported the airplane was in level flight before it entered a slight climb, then pitched down in a near-vertical descent. Several witnesses described the airplane “spinning,” “rotating” or “spiraling” during portions of the descent.

NTSB coordinated with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Navigation Response Team and the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory to locate the wreckage in Mutiny Bay. A sonar survey located the main wreckage and debris field at a depth of approximately 190 feet.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

FBI awards contract to Pilatus Business Aircraft

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has awarded Pilatus Business Aircraft LLC, Broomfield, Colo., an indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract with a maximum dollar amount of $140 million.

Under this new contract, Pilatus Business Aircraft is responsible for providing single engine turbine pressurized aircraft to the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI Critical Incident Response Group.

The ordering period for the contract is from Sept. 30 through Sept. 29, 2027.

The FBI announced the contract award on Friday.

New Broomfield paint facility

In response to the growing demand for the company's PC-24 and PC-12 NGX aircraft, Pilatus opened a new state-of-the-art paint facility at their U.S. Completions Centre in Broomfield, Colo.

Pilatus executives, employees, industry partners and invited guests gathered to celebrate the official grand opening of the facility at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport.

The $15 million investment is the latest building expansion for the US Completions Centre, which has been located at the airport for more than 26 years. The new facility opens 25 job opportunities with projected growth as the fleet and production continue to increase.

“This investment allows Pilatus Business Aircraft Ltd to manage and maintain the high quality standards and procedures set by our Swiss parent company.” said Thomas Bosshard, president and CEO of Pilatus US subsidiary, Pilatus Business Aircraft Ltd.

Reduce cost and production time

Pilatus Business Aircraft Ltd is responsible for more than 60 percent of annual business aircraft sales and deliveries for the Swiss manufacturer. Their recent expansion will not only reduce logistical complexities and costs related to painting aircraft, but also decrease production time.

The 28,445 square foot (2,643 square meter) custom-designed facility features three separate booths, all equipped to efficiently prep and paint the PC-24 and PC-12 NGX from base to finish. The Preparation and Detail Booth will primarily be used to prepare aircraft for paint, while also facilitating detailing, touch ups and silk screen printing of placards.

The Crossdraft Booth will serve as the primary booth for base to finish aircraft painting. The Downdraft Booth is uniquely designed for green to finish painting as well as an intricate base to finish paint schemes of the PC-24 and PC-12 NGX.

With production and personnel at capacity, the paint facility is forecasted to complete up to 100 aircraft on an annual basis – the first aircraft was scheduled to deliver as early as July.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

New non-stop flight service to Fort Lauderdale and Punta Cana by Swoop

Canada's leading ultra-low-cost airline, Swoop, expanded its winter sun-flying offering from John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport with new non-stop service to Fort Lauderdale and Punta Cana.

Swoop will begin the nonstop service to Fort Lauderdale on Dec. 16, and to Punta Cana on Jan. 11.

"As summer comes to an end, residents of southern Ontario are turning their attention towards winter travel planning with their sights set on a sunny getaway,” said Meghan Miller, Hamilton-based Regional Sales Lead.

Swoop has increased frequencies on existing sun-flying routes from Hamilton, with more weekly flights to Cancun, Las Vegas, Orlando, and St. Pete-Clearwater. Swoop will continue to operate non-stop flights from Hamilton to Moncton, NB and St. John's, NL through the winter.

"Hamilton is thrilled to have Swoop expand flight destinations and service from our city, which offers people from the entire region greater convenience and supports jobs, growth, and tourism in our community as well,” Mayor Fred Eisenberger said.

Swoop was established in 2018 as an independent subsidiary of the WestJet.

Swoop's fleet, comprised of ten Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft and three Boeing MAX-8 aircraft, will grow to 16 with the addition of three Boeing MAX-8 this year.

Defense Department ask for 115 F-35 jets in lot 18 order

The F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office (JPO) intends to solicit and negotiate multiple contract actions with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Fort Worth, Texas, for the development of additional F-35 Lightning II jets in their lot 18 order.

The proposed contract actions will provide for a total of 115 aircraft in lot 18 (75 F-35As, 25 F-35Bs and 15 F-35Cs).

The Naval Air Systems Command Headquarters at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland announced the lot 18 contract on Tuesday in a presolicitation document.

“This notice is not a commitment by the government to issue a solicitation or make an award (or awards),” the Navy said in the presolicitation. “The data associated with the F-35 JPO is export controlled and is not available to foreign sources or representatives.”

According to POLITICO, the Pentagon temporarily halted delivery of F-35 fighter jets to the military recently after Lockheed Martin discovered a metal component used in the jet's engine had come from China.

The Defense Contract Management Agency notified the F-35 Joint Program Office at the Pentagon on Aug. 19 that an alloy used in magnets contained in the F-35’s turbomachine pumps came from China, according to the POLITICO article. An alternative source for the alloy was found and will be used in future turbomachines.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Airbus A330-200 delivers supplies to Jackson, Mississippi water crisis

As Mississippi's capital city, Jackson, faces an unprecedented water shortage crisis, National Airlines donated and airlifted hundreds of cases of drinking water to the city. Over 150,000 people in the city are left without safe running water after the city's main water treatment facility failed due to the recent flooding.

The National Airlines' Airbus A330-200 flight from Fort Lauderdale to Jackson was transporting a prominent school band along with their specialized equipment in the cargo belly. The crew and operations team used the remaining luggage space as an opportunity to load the water cases, making sure the needed supplies reached Jackson on time for distribution.

"National has always been in the forefront of transporting immediate relief supplies to crisis-hit regions,” said Christopher Alf, chairman, National Air Cargo Holdings, Inc., in a company press release. “Be it COVID-19 medical supplies or essential supplies during natural calamities, National Airlines aircraft airlifts supplies to the most affected areas for timely distribution. The recent efforts to bring drinking water to Jackson, is yet another opportunity for us to serve people when in dire need", 

The recent flooding of the Pearl River led to the failure of pumps at the Jackson water treatment plant. This decreased the water supply to households this week. Currently, state officials and voluntary organizations are coordinating efforts to distribute safe drinking water to each household as the situation gets better in the region. People are also advised to boil water before using it for essential purposes.

Hard Rock Sportsbook app launch in Indiana and Tennessee

Hard Rock Sportsbook continued its multi-state expansion by launching its mobile app Tuesday in Indiana and Tennessee.

Indiana is home to the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana, where a retail Hard Rock Sportsbook location opened in May, while Tennessee has three Hard Rock Cafes (Nashville, Memphis, and Pigeon Forge) and the Bristol Casino located just across the Virginia state line.

The Hard Rock Sportsbook app offers innovative promotions, fast deposits and withdrawals, and hundreds of games and props to bet each day along with same game parlays and prop parlays. Hard Rock Sportsbook has also introduced in-app streaming and the Mystery Wheel, a new interactive rewards experience where players can earn up to $5,000 in free bets.

“The successful debut of the Mystery Wheel is the latest example of the unique interactive experiences that can only be found at Hard Rock Sportsbook as well as our commitment to building the most entertaining app in the market,” said Marlon Goldstein, executive managing director & CEO for Hard Rock Digital, in a news release.

The Hard Rock Sportsbook mobile app is available for download through the App Store (iOS users) or the Google PlayStore (Android users) and can be utilized by fans located in Arizona, Indiana, Tennessee, and Virginia with plans to expand to additional states soon. Hard Rock Sportsbook also serves fans online in New Jersey and Iowa through the Hard Rock Sports & Casino NJ and the Hard Rock Sportsbook Iowa apps, respectively.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Seaplane crash near Whidbey Island, one dead, nine missing

The U.S. Coast Guard was called to respond to the report of a plane crash Sunday afternoon in Mutiny Bay west of Whidbey Island, Wash.

Crews at the Coast Guard Puget Sound Command Center received a report at 3:11 p.m. PDT that a float plane crashed with nine adults and one child aboard. The plane was en route to Renton Municipal Airport after departing from Friday Harbor.

The following assets were involved in the search:

  • Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter crew
  • 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Osprey and crew
  • 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Blue Shark and crew
  • Coast Guard Station Seattle 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew
  • Coast Guard Station Port Angeles 45-foot RB-M crew
  • Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento C-27 aircraft and crew

Additionally, first responders from South Whidbey Fire, Island County Sheriff’s Office and Snohomish County Sheriff’s office were on the scene.

One deceased individual was recovered by crews on the scene. Nine individuals remain unaccounted for, and a safety zone has been put into effect to help facilitate search efforts.

Data provided by FlightRadar24.com shows the last signal received on the aircraft's position was at 3:08 p.m. PDT. At that point the aircraft was at 100 feet altitude.

FlightRadar24.com identified the aircraft as a 1967 de Havilland DHC-3 single-engine plane with 11 seats. The plane (tail number N725TH) is registered to Northwest Seaplanes Inc. of Renton, Wash., according to Federal Aviation Administration records.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

When is the NASA Artemis 1 mission launching to the moon?

NASA engineers could not overcome a hydrogen leak between a fuel feed line and their new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on Saturday and decided to scrub the launch attempt and review their options for the coming weeks.

Over the next several days, teams will gain access to the area of the leak on Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., and in parallel conduct a schedule assessment and make a decision on whether to perform repairs on the rocket at the launch pad or roll it back inside the Vehicle Assembly Building.

During Saturday's launch attempt, engineers saw a leak in a cavity between the ground side and rocket side plates surrounding an eight-inch line used to fill and drain liquid hydrogen from the SLS rocket. Three attempts at reseating the seal were unsuccessful, NASA officials said Saturday.

The space mission, known as Artemis I, is a flight test to launch NASA’s new SLS rocket and an uncrewed Orion spacecraft around the moon before the Artemis II mission is launched carry astronauts.

A new launch date has not been announced yet.

Saturday, September 3, 2022

NASA GDC spacecraft draft RFP release moved to September

NASA’s Geospace Dynamics Constellation (GDC) project intends to publish a draft spacecraft Request for Proposal (RFP) this month and the final spacecraft RFP approximately three months later. In June, the space agency said they would release the RFP in August.

Proposals for the GDC spacecraft are expected to be due 30 calendar days after the release of the final RFP, NASA said in contract documents released this week.

GDC will be composed of six observatories designed to study the local and global effects of the Sun’s activity on the high- and mid- latitude regions with a launch in the late 2020’s.

GDC is a mission concept to study the coupling between the magnetosphere and the ionosphere/thermosphere system, and how that coupled system responds to external energy input.

GDC will address crucial scientific questions pertaining to the dynamic processes active in Earth’s upper atmosphere; their local, regional, and global structure; and their role in driving and modifying magnetospheric activity, according to the project's website. GDC will be the first mission to address these questions on a global scale due to its use of a constellation of spacecraft that permit simultaneous multi-point observations. This investigation is central to understanding the basic physics and chemistry of the upper atmosphere and its interaction with Earth’s magnetosphere, but also will produce insights into space weather processes.

In April, NASA selected three investigation teams to join the GDC mission science team as well as five additional investigations that will be under consideration for inclusion in the mission.

The three GDC investigations selected for flight have a combined budget of $149 million to design and deliver their instruments to the mission.

“GDC will greatly increase our understanding of and ability to mitigate the effects of space weather,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. “What we learn from GDC is both critical for missions in low-Earth orbit, and a critical ingredient for understanding orbital debris in that domain.”

Planned for launch no earlier than September 2027, GDC will orbit in the same altitude range as the International Space Station, approximately 215 to 250 miles above Earth.

Friday, September 2, 2022

NASA seeks to overhaul engines on former Army spy plane

A NASA contract to perform the overhaul of four PT6-50 engines on a former Army spy plane is up for bid, according to contract documents released Friday.

The NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) in California owns a de Havilland Dash-7 aircraft for parts located at Davis-Monthan Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) in Tucson, Ariz.

This aircraft is a Dash 7 (tail number N566CC) serial number 76. The aircraft has been stored since 2017 at AMARG and will be moved to the Pima Air and Space Museum for engine removal. NASA AFRC is soliciting information from potential sources for engine maintenance and test cell run.

The agency “is seeking capability statements from all interested parties for the purposes of determining the appropriate level of competition and/or small business subcontracting goals for de Havilland Dash-7 engine repair,” NASA said in the contract documents. “The government will be seeking the most highly qualified firm(s) to perform the required services. Vendors having the capabilities necessary to meet or exceed the stated requirements are invited to submit appropriate documentation, literature, brochures, and references.”

All responses shall be submitted to NASA no later than Sept. 7.

An article by Joseph Trevithick on TheDrive website provides a detailed look into N566CC's past as a secretive spy plane.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Progress made to reduce traveler wait times and delays across Canadian airports

The Government of Canada and industry partners released an update Thursday on the continued action and progress being made to reduce traveler wait times and delays across Canadian airports.

Flight completions

  • For the week of Aug. 22-28, 97.5% of flights planned for Canada's top four airports were completed (i.e., not canceled), an improvement from 95% for the first week of July.

On-time performance

  • From August 22-28, over 86% of flights from the top four airports left on time, or within one hour of their scheduled departure.

  • This is a significant improvement from under 75% for the first week of July and is approaching the pre-pandemic levels in August 2019 where 95% of flights were on time, or within an hour of scheduled departure.

Holding of aircraft at Toronto Pearson International Airport 

  • The number of arriving international flights being held on the tarmac at Toronto-Pearson International Airport has decreased dramatically since May.

    • For the week of August 22-28, 5%, or 109 international flight arrivals, were held on the tarmac, as compared to the peak of 373 during the first week of May.

Passenger security screening wait times 

  • From August 22-28, 87% of passengers at the four largest airports were screened within 15 minutes by CATSA, an improvement from 79% during the first week of July 2022.

    • Toronto-Pearson International Airport: 87% (98% in 2019)

    • Vancouver International Airport: 82% (approaching pre-pandemic levels of 88% in 2019)

    • Montréal-Trudeau International Airport: 93% (above pre-pandemic levels of 88% in 2019)

    • Calgary International Airport: 87% (same as pre-pandemic levels in 2019)

Increasing staffing for security screening

  • Since April,1,837 CATSA screening officers have been hired across Canada.

Streamlining customs processing at Toronto Pearson International Airport

  • To further facilitate entry and expedite traveler processing, there are now 12 eGates, four dedicated NEXUS eGates and 30 new primary inspection kiosks at Toronto-Pearson International Airport.

  • The Greater Toronto Airports Authority and the Canada Border Services Agency have opened a new dedicated International Student Processing area in Terminal 1. This will help further streamline international student study permit issuance and will minimize impacts on the general traveler flow.

In Canada, airlines must follow the requirements of the Air Passenger Protection Regulations, which outline compensation requirements for passengers for flight disruptions due to incidents within an airline's control.

Starting next week on Sept. 8, new regulations will come into effect that will ensure that passengers are offered the option of a refund for flights that are canceled, or where there is a lengthy delay, due to reasons outside of an air carrier's control (such as major weather events, or a pandemic) where it is not possible for the air carrier to complete the passenger's itinerary within a reasonable time frame.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Avelo Airlines starts serving Binghamton, New York this fall

Avelo Airlines announced Wednesday it will begin serving Binghamton, New York this fall with exclusive nonstop service to Orlando and Fort Myers, Fla. When service begins Nov. 16, Avelo will be the only airline offering nonstop flights from New York's Southern Tier to The Sunshine State.

Introductory one-way fares between Greater Binghamton Airport (BGM) and Orlando International Airport and Fort Myers' Southwest Florida International Airport start at $79. Customers can make reservations at AveloAir.com.

Avelo Airlines Chairman and CEO Andrew Levy said, "We're excited to add Binghamton as our first New York destination to Avelo's U.S. network. Say hello to convenient and cost-friendly hometown airport access to The Sunshine State and say goodbye to long and expensive gas-guzzling drives to those other distant New York airports."

Greater Binghamton Airport's Commissioner of Aviation Mark Heefner, C.M. said, "Service to Florida is something our community has requested for over 20 years.”

New York Senator Charles Schumer said, "I have relentlessly fought to deliver millions in funding to accelerate the Greater Binghamton Airport's modernization– and with this new service the fruits of that labor are taking flight."

Broome County Executive Jason Garnar said, "Bringing new passenger air service to BGM has been a goal of my administration from day one. With low fares, convenience, and destinations our residents have wanted for a long time, it's a great time to Fly BGM!"

The new routes will operate twice weekly on Boeing Next-Generation 737 aircraft.

Since taking flight April 28, 2021, Avelo has flown more than one million customers on more than 8,500 flights.

With the addition of BGM, Avelo now serves 31 destinations across the U.S.

Operating a fleet of Boeing Next-Generation 737 aircraft, Avelo serves popular destinations across the U.S., including its three bases at Los Angeles' Hollywood Burbank Airport, Southern Connecticut's Tweed-New Haven Airport and Orlando International Airport.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

First Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner for Lufthansa

The Boeing Company celebrated the delivery of the first 787-9 Dreamliner to Lufthansa Group at Paine Field, Everett, Wash., on Monday.

The Lufthansa Group has 32 firm orders for the 787 and joins nearly 50 customers worldwide in operating the airplane. Boeing designed the 787 family with superior efficiency, which allows airlines to profitably open new routes and fly people directly where they want to go in exceptional comfort.

Using 25% less fuel and creating 25% fewer emissions than the airplanes they replace, the 787 family has avoided more than 125 billion pounds of carbon emissions since entering service in 2011.

"With the Boeing 787, we are introducing another modern aircraft type that is one of the most fuel-efficient long-haul aircraft in our fleet," said Jens Ritter, CEO of Lufthansa Airlines. "This will allow us to significantly further improve the average CO2 balance.”

Since revenue service began in 2011, the 787 family has launched more than 325 new nonstop routes around the world, including approximately 50 routes opened since 2020. The 787-9 version can fly 296 passengers up to 7,565 nautical miles (14,010 kilometers) in a typical two-class configuration.

"Today's delivery to the Lufthansa Group is a significant milestone for both companies as we resume European 787 deliveries,” said Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

In addition to 32 787 Dreamliners on order, the Lufthansa Group has firm orders for 20 777-9 passenger airplanes and recently placed a firm order for seven of the new 777-8 Freighter.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Air Europa, first spanish operator of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft

AerCap Holdings N.V. announced Monday it has signed lease agreements with Air Europa Líneas Aéreas S.A.U. for the long-term lease of five Boeing 787-9 aircraft and ten Boeing 737-8 MAX aircraft. The aircraft are scheduled to deliver beginning in 2024 through 2026.

Air Europa will become the first Spanish operator of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

"The future is bright for the Boeing 787 and MAX programs,” said Peter Anderson, chief commercial officer, AerCap. “For Air Europa these new technology fuel-efficient aircraft will provide improved cost efficiencies and help them to meet their sustainability commitments.”

Richard Clark, managing director of Air Europa, said, "We are very pleased to reach this agreement with AerCap, with whom we have a long and successful relationship. It reinforces our strategy of unifying the fleet around the most modern, efficient, and sustainable models in the industry. Once again, we are pioneers. Just as we were the first Spanish company to incorporate the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, we are now doing the same by adding the new Boeing 737 MAX to our fleet."

AerCap serves approximately 300 customers around the world with comprehensive fleet solutions. AerCap is based in Dublin with offices in Shannon, Miami, Singapore, Memphis, Amsterdam, Shanghai, Abu Dhabi, Seattle, Toulouse and other locations around the world.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Air Force plans for Radio Frequency Facility to test new B-21 bomber

The Air Force is moving forward with plans to construct a Radio Frequency Facility at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., that will test their new B-21 bombers' stealth capabilities prior to missions. The military announced plans in a Pre-Solicitation Notice contract document released Friday.

The B-21 Raider is a new high-tech stealth bomber being developed to replace the Air Force’s aging bomber fleet.

Designed to be long-range, highly survivable and capable of carrying a mix of conventional and nuclear ordnance, the B-21 bomber will join the nuclear triad as a visible and flexible nuclear deterrent; supporting national security objectives. The Air Force anticipates a swift test and evaluation program for the new aircraft.

On May 25, ground was broken for the first facility that will house the B-21 Raider, a 95,000-square-foot Low Observable Restoration Facility for maintenance. It’s the first of more than 30 projects planned to support the B-21 mission at Ellsworth.

In the Pre-Solicitation Notice released Friday the Air Force said, “On or about 23 September 2022, this office will issue Request for Proposal (RFP) to construct a B-21 Radio Frequency Facility (RF Hangar), Ellsworth Air Force Base (AFB), South Dakota.  The solicitation will close on or about 25 October 2022.” The solicitation will include photographic attachments and drawings.

A site visit is scheduled for Oct. 13, the Air Force said.

The contract details plans to construct a high bay special maintenance hangar with one aircraft position and all associated back shops, unique climatically controlled material storage with uninterrupted power supply system, and administrative and facility support spaces.

“This project includes clearing and grading site, storm drainage, aircraft parking and movement area, utility infrastructure systems and all other supporting facilities,” the document says. “Facility functional areas include one hangar bay sized to fit B-2A “Spirit” aircraft with space and configuration to accommodate radio frequency testing on the aircraft. Administrative and support functions are located to the side and behind the hangar bay. The facility contains multiple secure spaces to be designed and constructed to ICD/ICS 705 criteria.”

The contractor will be required to commence work within 10 days after Notice to Proceed (NTP) and complete the work in the proposed number of calendar days (Not to Exceed 900 calendar days) after receipt of NTP.

The magnitude of construction cost for this project is between $25 million and $100 million.

New Alaska Airlines flights between Everett and Anchorage nonstop

Alaska Airlines announced Friday new daily nonstop service between Everett and Anchorage, Alaska, will begin Nov. 30. The flights will connect the newest commercial airport in the Seattle area with another one of the airline's main hubs. Tickets for flights between Paine Field-Snohomish County Airport and the state of Alaska's largest city are available for purchase now on alaskaair.com.

"We listened to our guests who live and work from north of Seattle to the Canadian border. They told us one of their top requests is a nonstop flight between Everett and Anchorage," said Brett Catlin, vice president of network and alliances for Alaska Airlines. "There's a significant need and demand to connect workers and businesses in the two regions – from the fishing industry to aviation – in addition to the desire for leisure travel."

With the new nonstop from Everett, operated by Alaska Airlines sister airline Horizon Air, Anchorage becomes the farthest destination and longest flight the airline serves from that airport. On the operations side, Horizon began operating a new 74,000-square-foot hangar and maintenance facility on the Paine Field property this year that can accommodate up to four E175 aircraft at a time.

Our guests flying to and from Everett – about 20 miles north of Seattle and 70 miles south of Bellingham, Washington – have enjoyed a convenient, stress-free, upscale alternative airport experience with a lounge atmosphere. Propeller Airports operates the terminal as part of a public-private partnership with Snohomish County. Since our regularly scheduled service launched there in March 2019, we've flown roughly 1.3 million guests to and from Paine Field-Snohomish County Airport.

From Everett this fall and winter, we'll fly to nine destinations: Anchorage, Boise, Las Vegas, Orange County, Palm Springs, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and Spokane.

Our sister carrier Horizon Air provides most of our service at Paine Field with the Embraer 175 jet. The E175 features First Class and Premium Class, and only window and aisle seating – there are no middle seats.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Video: Wizard Games takes slot players on adventure in Alice Mega Riches

Embark on a spellbinding adventure where iconic characters from Lewis Carroll’s classic novel Alice in Wonderland fill the reels in Wizard Games slot game.

Wizard Games, a subsidiary of NeoGames S.A., is journeying down the rabbit hole into Wonderland in their latest launch Alice Mega Riches.

The 5x5, 50-payline title is packed full of features as Alice embarks on a spellbinding adventure.

Alice herself acts as a wild, and can appear as a 1x1 symbol right up to a reel-filling 5x5, for significantly increased win potential (see YouTube video).

If three heart scatters land on the reels on a single spin, the Free Spins feature is triggered, awarding five spins. During this mode, a roaming wild is always present, starting at 1x1 in size, moving to a new position with every spin.

The left-hand side of the reels is home to a collect bar, as players look to gather three scatters to improve a level. Each time three are collected, more spins are awarded and the wild grows in size. If players complete all levels, the wild will be 5x5 in size, covering the entire board for wondrous wins.

Players can also double the chances of activating the Free Spins with the boost feature, which increases their stake by 20x.

In certain regions, players can progress straight to the Free Spins with the Buy Bonus, for 150x their stake.

Alice Mega Riches becomes the newest addition to Wizard Games’ growing portfolio, following Amun Ra – King of the Gods and Dwarf Riches in the burgeoning games offering.

Wizard Games portfolio currently includes over 120 titles certified for more than 20 regulated jurisdictions in Europe, North America and Latin America.

Joey Hurtado, Managing Director at Wizard Games, said: “Alice Mega Riches has long been a very strong performer in the Wizard Games portfolio so it seemed natural to bring this highly popular theme back to our players with a whole new exciting mechanic, features and bonuses.”

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Professional boxer Jake Paul unveils 'micro-betting' sports venture

Social media personality and professional boxer Jake Paul, along with founder and CEO Joey Levy, have joined together to create a new media venture and sports wagering app geared toward micro-betting.

Based in Miami, Fla., the new venture, called Betr, will be the first direct-to-consumer micro-betting focused sports betting company.

Micro-betting provides instant gratification for sports bettors that place a wager on a certain pitch or at-bats in a baseball game, or plays and drives in football. It's basically betting on an individual moment in a game rather than the final score.

“Betr is setting out to disrupt legacy gambling and legacy media, with a mission of making sports and betting betr,” the company said in a press release.

CEO Joey Levy is the co-founder of Simplebet, the B2B technology company that has pioneered micro-betting on U.S. sports by building the machine learning and automation infrastructure to enable this new form of betting to exist at scale.

Betr will be leveraging Simplebet's technology and is releasing its app in the coming weeks, initially as a free-to-play experience available in all 50 states, with a state-by-state rollout of its licensed real money betting experiences to follow later this year, the company said.

Betr has secured market access in multiple U.S. states through strategic partnerships that the company will be announcing in the near future.

Paul kicked off the launch of Betr's media company with a preview of 'BS w/ Jake Paul,' the first of many Betr will release as it aims to become the primary media platform for the next generation of sports fans.

The Betr media show will feature Jake along with his celebrity friends taking fans on a journey across the landscape of sports and sports betting through the eyes of an A-list athlete.

“We believe micro-betting will ultimately emerge as the predominant way consumers bet on U.S. sports,” the company said in their press release.

Alex Ursa, from FanDuel, has joined Betr as Head of Product. At FanDuel he helped build their sports betting & casino businesses into the clear market leader. Mike Denevi has joined Betr as Head of Media from Bleacher Report, where he helped build BR Betting into the top sports betting media brand on social media.

"I wasn't into sports betting until I was introduced to micro-betting," Paul said. “I am excited to bring it to the masses. We are getting licensed state-by-state, adhering to each state's regulatory framework while advocating for important consumer protections and responsible gambling.”

Over 30 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have some form of legal sports wagering today.

Betr has raised $50 million in funding from renowned institutional and strategic investors and some of the most influential athletes, celebrities, and sports team owners including Florida Funders, 8vc, Aliya Capital Partners, Fuel Venture Capital, FinSight Ventures, Co-Owners of San Francisco 49ers, Boston Celtics, and Miami Marlins, Travis Scott, Ezekiel Elliott, Richard Sherman, Dez Bryant, DeSean Jackson, Braxton Berrios, Palm Tree Crew, Roger Ehrenberg, Mark Wan, Russell Galbut, David Grutman, Deirdre Bigley, Gary Barber, Simplebet, Stronach Group, Magic City Casino, Anti Fund, 305 Ventures, Elizabeth Street Ventures, Riverside Ventures, Gaingels, Moving Capital, Elysium Venture Capital, FJ Labs, Tampa Bay Ventures, Trog Hawley, and many others.

Monday, June 27, 2022

NASA airborne instrument measures snowfall quantities on Earth

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is seeking flight operation support from an operator of a Twin Otter to conduct two science aircraft flight campaigns in Alaska that will measure snow and water quantities over the Earth in an effort to understand changes in snowfall amounts.

Snow, being so white, reflects up to 80% of the sun’s energy, acting to cool the planet. Loss of snow will result in Earth absorbing more sunlight, accelerating the warming that is already underway.

Since 1967, a million square miles of spring snow cover has disappeared from the Northern Hemisphere, an area the size of Argentina. Changes in global snow cover are altering global food production patterns, reducing hydropower generation, and forcing the closure of ski areas.

In an effort to understand snow fall quantities, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., developed a Snow Water Equivalent Synthetic Aperture Radar and Radiometer (SWESARR), a new instrument designed to measure the water content in a snowpack. The instrument uses active and passive microwave sensors to map the radio frequency emissions of the snowpack, which can then be turned into a measurement of snow water equivalent.

NASA plans to mount the SWESARR instrument on a Twin Otter DHC-6-300 aircraft.

The flights will occur in and around Fairbanks, Alaska, and be part of the larger NASA Snow Experiment (SnowEx) mission.

“SnowEx observation periods are not exactly known at the time of this writing,” NASA officials said in contract documents released on Friday. “The two SWESARR flight campaigns are planned to take place for two different snow conditions, pre- and post-snow fall. We are targeting pre-snow fall flights to take place in late October 2022 and post-snow fall campaign to take place in early March 2023. The instrument has flown in a similar SnowEx campaign in 2019/20 over the Grand Mesa, Colo., as well as earlier test flights.”

Installation of the instrument is expected to occur at the operator’s facility referred to as base camp. Base camp activity is expected to take no longer than seven workdays including installation flight certification and testing. Length of the test flights will depend on issues uncovered but are expected to take under a total of three hours.

Up to 15 hours of science flights are to be conducted. “These science flights can take up to 10 days depending on weather conditions, issues with the instrument, coordination of flights with other instruments or crew emergencies,” NASA said.

Pre-snow fall flights are planned to begin around Oct. 18, but may change depending on weather and aircraft readiness. A second post-snow fall flight campaign is planned to be conducted before March 30.