Quick Hits: CHASING CHALLENGER

first_imgAmerica’s Most Celebrated Eagle calls Tennessee HomeIf you’ve attended a live professional sporting event in the last 23 years, you may have been lucky enough to watch Challenger the bald eagle take flight.He’s been a fixture at events across the country, having enjoyed hundreds of plane flights out of his home base near Nashville, via Southwest Airlines, and thousands of hours riding in a specially equipped van, en route to perform his aerial magic.Now 29, Challenger is the first bald eagle in U.S. history trained to free fly into major sports stadiums, arenas, and ballrooms during the national anthem. His first flight took place in 1995, during the Bassmaster Classic in Greensboro, N.C. Since then, he’s been an inspiring performer at more than 350 events, including five World Series, the NCAA Final Four, Celebrity Fight Nights, numerous NFL match-ups (particularly home games of the Philadelphia Eagles), and even the White House.Challenger has appeared on national talk shows, in commercials, and in educational films. Even his arrival to airport gates is greeted with an excitement and enthusiasm that rivals most celebrities. Tennesseans may also recognize his image from specialty license plates, and he boasts the unique title as the only animal to ever have a specialty coin with his image printed by the U.S. Mint. Challenger was also in attendance for a historic milestone for his species, when bald eagles were removed from the endangered species list in 2007.Perhaps his most important role is that of ambassador for the American Eagle Foundation, a non-profit organization established in 1985 to protect and preserve bald eagles and other birds of prey.Located in Pigeon Forge, the AEF has served as Challenger’s home for almost three decades. He was first discovered in Louisiana at only a few weeks of age, having been blown out of his mother’s nest. For several months, Challenger was hand-raised by humans who released him back into the wild that same year, but who unknowingly kept him too long for Challenger to develop his natural survival instincts. After several unsuccessful attempts at re-introduction into the wild, he was brought to Al Cecere, the founder, president, and CEO of AEF.When Challenger, who was named for the fallen space shuttle, arrived uninjured in 1989, Cecere had an idea: why not train Challenger to free fly during the national anthem, as a way to raise awareness about the then-endangered species while also paying patriotic tribute? He and his staff began to train Challenger in falconry style, which is based on food-based rewards and positive reinforcement.After a few years, the six-pound eagle had learned the routine. Now, he performs across the country almost every week of the year except during the summer, when he is molting.Photo: Julia Cecere / American Eagle Foundation.Once an event is lined up by AEF and individual teams/organizations (which cover travel costs for Challenger and his team while also donating to AEF), five AEF staff members accompany him on the road. Challenger’s special carrier, handled by two staff members, is dark inside, to keep him calm. The interior also has a perch as well as a sliding window. Challenger’s team books the front two bulkhead coach seats for his carrier, with a staff member sitting beside him and additional team members in the rows behind and adjacent. Often, Southwest flight crews will let Cecere take the microphone to give a brief talk about Challenger once the plane is airborne.Cecere, who is 70, always travels with Challenger; Cecere’s daughter, Laura Sterbens, typically travels with him as well. “It’s amazing how many millions of people he’s inspired, not just sports fans, but military members and everyday people,” Cecere says.Wherever he is performing on a given day, Challenger typically takes flight from a higher location than ground level. It’s a path he’s familiar with, as he’s already been through several rounds of rehearsals the previous day as well as the morning of the event. The idea is for Challenger to know all of the elements, so if a singer will be standing on the field, or if fireworks will be going off, he’ll be prepared as he spreads his six-foot wingspan and takes flight. Challenger is outfitted with two GPS trackers, clipped to his tail feathers in case he decides to fly beyond the stadium, but Cecere says they have never needed them.At a baseball game, Cecere will typically stand on the pitcher’s mound, with Laura next to him, holding a lure, which is swung in a circular motion to attract Challenger’s attention. When Challenger sees the lure, he knows a treat is not far behind (he is also trained to specific whistles as well as hand motions).Once he’s released, Challenger flies either directly to Cecere or he takes one or two circles around the arena, whichever path he chooses. When he successfully lands on Cecere’s glove, Challenger earns his favorite snack: Atlantic wild-caught salmon (purchased at Whole Foods, along with bottled Fiji water). Three other handlers are positioned on the field, all wearing headsets, so if Challenger is confused about where to go, they can assist him. Because birds have to gradually descend from heights, sometimes Challenger overshoots his landing, in which case he’ll make one more loop before settling on to the trainer’s outstretched glove.After the event is over, Challenger will often pose for photos, fluffing his feathers for the camera. Then, it’s back to the hotel to rest before another flight and performance in a new city.Bald eagles can live up to 50 years or more in captivity, and Challenger shows no signs of slowing down. At the AEF, which has released over 450 eaglets into the wild through their rehabilitation and breeding programs, Challenger is flown every day for exercise and to build his stamina for when he takes the stage.“Remember what the eagle stands for—independence—and yet the eagle was almost lost because of our negligence,” Cecere says. “We came together as a country and brought it back from the brink, and now it’s flourishing across the country again. Challenger is our ambassador for what it is that we do.”last_img read more

Army’s 3ID gets new commander

first_img“Gustoko munang mag-relax after years na nasa trabaho tayo. Gusto ko mag-spendng time sa pamilya ko. Ilang taon na wala ako sa tabi nila dahil sa serbisyo saating taong bayan,” he told PanayNews. Dolina is turning over his post to hisAssistant Division Commander, Brigadier General Eric Vinoya. The turnover will be in Camp Peraltain Jamindan, Capiz. “I would like to thank lahat nang tumulong sa akin, included na ang media,” said Dolina. Vinoya’s post will be taken over byBrigadier General Alberto Desoyo, commander of the Philippine Army’s 301stInfantry Brigade based in Camp Hernandez, Dingle, Iloilo. ILOILO City – The commander of thePhilippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID), Major General Dinoh Dolina, isretiring today, his 56th birthday. Dolina was a seasoned combat officerwho rose from the ranks, being a platoon leader, company commander, battalioncommander, and later as brigade commander of the 802nd Infantry Brigade inOrmoc City, Leyte. According to Dolina, he was “happyserving the Ilonggos.” Camp Peralta is the headquarters ofthe 3ID. His older brother was Police ChiefSuperintendent Asher Dolina, a graduate of PMA Class 1984 and Brigadier GeneralTirso Dolina, the Philippine Army chaplain. Dolina had been chief of the Army’sOffice of the Legislative Affairs, General Headquarters.A native of Palo,Leyte, Dolina was a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1985had two other brothers in the armed service. For two years Dolina spearheaded the3ID which covered Panay and Negros islands. Dolina intimated there was an offerfor a government civilian post for him but he declined. He said he wanted tospend time with his family. He became the 3ID commander on Dec.29, 2017. As then assistant division commander, he replaced the retiring MajorGeneral Jon Aying (now mayor of Saram Iloilo). He had served various significantpositions in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to include being Chiefof Staff of the General Headquarters and Headquarters Service Command. Under Dolina, the 3ID kept WesternVisayas generally peaceful vis-à-vis the insurgency problem. Several rebelseither surrendered or were captured. He was also the Chief of Morale andWelfare Division, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, J1, andAssistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, G2, 8th Infantry Division,Philippine Army./PNlast_img read more

West Demerara Secondary dethrone Patentia to win WBD zone

first_img– Berbice High and New Amsterdam Secondary off to winning startsWEST Demerara Secondary School dethroned Patentia Secondary School in their zone final encounter recently when the 2016 edition of the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) National Secondary School Cricket League (NSSCL) continued.Playing at Belle Vue ground, West Demerara were bowled out for 78 in 17.4 overs. Ryan Seecharran with 18 was the principle scorer. Hemraj Persuad had impressive figures of 6-18, while Wazim Rohaman claimed 2-13, bowling for Patentia.Patentia in reply fell for just 51 in 12.5 overs. Peter Williams was the only batsman to reach double figures for the defending champions. Daneshwar Kowlessar was the pick of the bowlers, claiming 5-17 to spur his team to victory. Aaron Seepersaud had 3-14.In the New Amsterdam/Canje zone, Berbice High School thumped Tutorial Academy by ten wickets at BHS ground. Tutorial Academy batted first and were dismissed for 94 in 17 overs. Joshua Singh top scored with 38. Alex Algoo took 4-12 and Bryan Mahadeo claimed 3-17.Berbice High then raced to 96 without loss off just seven overs, with Algoo returning with the bat to smash a pugnacious 72, with four fours and five maximums, while Mahadeo contributed 17.At Rose Hall Canje ground, New Amsterdam Secondary registered a comfortable eight-wicket victory over Vryman’s Erven. Vryman’s Erven were restricted to 67 all out in 24.3 overs. Reuben Latcha took 4-13. He received support from Jayden Narine (3-20) and Nicholas Haywood (2-24).New Amsterdam Secondary then replied with 68-2 in 12.4 overs to complete an easy victory.The NSSCL will continue on Tuesday.last_img read more

Seahawks monitoring Antonio Brown, ‘open’ to Josh Gordon return

first_imgGordon was banned indefinitely in December for violations of the NFL’s policies on performance-enhancing substances and substances of abuse.A Pro Bowler, Gordon – who would become an unrestricted free agent if and when he is reinstated – made five appearances for the Seahawks last season after he was released by the Patriots in November.”It’s not in our hands,” Carroll said. “Josh did a really good job with us last year. He fit in really well. He was part of this team by the way we opened and embraced his coming to us but also by the way he adapted. So we are very open to that thought and we’ll see what happens. I don’t know. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen on that.” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Seattle is monitoring Antonio Brown as they weigh up a move for the seven-time Pro Bowler.The free agent receiver will serve an eight-game suspension after breaching the NFL’s personal conduct policy following a January incident in Florida. The 32-year-old wide receiver is looking for a new home after being cut by the Patriots, who axed Brown after just 11 days and one game in September. Seattle has emerged as a possible destination and Carroll addressed the Seahawks’ rumoured interest in Brown on Monday.”What I’d say to you is what we always say because it’s what we always do and who we are,” Carroll said. “[General manager] John [Schneider] is competing at every turn. There’s never been a process, unless we just missed it, that we weren’t involved with to understand what the chances were of helping our club. He’s all over it. He understands what’s going on right now, as much as you can. It’s a very complex situation. We just need to see where it fits somewhere down the road. That’s all I got for you.”MORE: Antonio Brown promises ‘best season of my career’MORE: Why is Antonio Brown suspended?Having entered the league with the Steelers in 2010, Brown has amassed 11,263 receiving yards and caught 75 touchdowns in his career.Carroll, meanwhile, said the Seahawks are “very open” to reuniting with star wide receiver Josh Gordon.last_img read more