Tragedy sent ripples throughout the gambling industry on July 31 when an airplane went down in Minnesota, killing three Revel Entertainment executives as well as 5 others. The plane was heading to Minnesota to look into glass for the new Revel casino under construction in Atlantic City. The Revel employees were part of the design team on the new hotel-casino complex. Two executives of APG International, glass facade specialists based in New Jersey, and the Tishman Construction project manager were also killed in the crash along with both pilots.
The Raytheon Hawker 800 went down in a cornfield while preparing to land at a regional airport about 60 miles south of the Twin Cities. Severe weather had been moving through southern Minnesota earlier in the day, but witnesses and the National Weather Service said that the storms were subsiding at the time of the crash. The accident is under investigation and a complete report could take several months.
According to witnesses, the plane touched down briefly and then seemed to try to take off again. Instead it ran off the end of the runway through a grass field and apparently hit an antenna that’s part of the instrument landing system. According to one federal investigator, the crash occurred after the right wing caught on the antenna about 1000 feet past the end of the runway.
“The antenna stands about 8 feet high and straddles the width of the runway,” said Steven Chealander, a board member for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the federal agency investigating the crash.
Five of the victims were a part of the Revel hotel-casino project, due to open in 2010. The $2 billion dollar project involves an ocean-themed casino on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. The eastern facade of the building has been designed to look like it is sculpted by the waves. The finished complex is slated to have two hotel towers with up to 3,900 rooms. There will also be AC’s first casino wedding chapel, half a million square feet of retail/dining/entertainment space and a150,000 square foot casino floor. At this point, it is unclear whether the tragedy will delay the project’s opening.
The crash brought back memories for many in the industry with it’s similarities to the 1989 helicopter crash that killed three Trump executives only 6 months before the scheduled opening of the Taj Mahal Casino & Resort. The three were very high ranking in the Trump organization and that tragedy also sent ripples throughout the gambling community.
“It was very bad; they were my top people,” Trump recalled on Thursday. “It shows the hazards of flying and the hazards of life, and there’s nothing you can do about either. You have to get the best equipment and the best pilots, and even then you need a lot of luck.”