Flyover

Restored T-6 Thunders will fly over S.R. Knutson Field as part of a pre-game ceremony during the Hutchinson High School football team’s home game Sept. 10.

Fans of Tiger football are already familiar with Red, White and Blue Night.

“Red, White and Blue Night has always been one of my favorite games,” said Colin Nagel, one of the team’s captains. “Having all the cops, firefighters and vets on the field with us is always fun, and they are so supportive.”

Colin, along with captains Max Einck, Aaron Elliott and Sam Rensch, wanted to find a way to give back, and looked to their parents for help making the event special on the evening before the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

“When we talked with the parents about making it a bigger deal, they were supportive,” Colin said.

At 7 p.m. Sept. 10, at the start of Hutchinson’s home game against Willmar at S.R. Knutson Field, first responders and veterans invited by team members will stand beside the players for the national anthem. Others will stand beside team members who do not know a veteran to invite. Honorary captains for the game are U.S. Army Captain Louis Goldstien, Hutchinson Police Department Sgt. Eric Kilian, and Hutchinson Fire Department Battalion Chief Jason Sturges.

“We’ll have a large flag,” said Joe Nagel, one of the captain’s parents helping the team organize the event. “It takes 40 people to hold it and we’ll have it on display during the national anthem.”

But the captains wanted to go even bigger. Colin was confident that could happen — claiming his father never does anything small. Saluting Community Heroes was brought in to help with the event, and Joe reached out to American Legion Post 96 Commander Tim Burley to see if there was any way to organize a flyover. He contacted the Minnesota Vietnam Veterans Charity and was connected to the T-6 Thunder Flight Team.

“These guys that do it, they’re Vietnam veterans,” Burley said. “They restored these T-6 Thunders, they call them.”

Money earned by the flight team goes to the MNVVC and its charitable causes, including honor flight trips for veterans to visit memorials in Washington, D.C. The American Legion and VFW agreed to pay for the flyover, which will include a diamond formation, circle formation, and the missing man formation.

“We’re trying to do a unity thing here,” Burley said. “We can unite under that flag.”

He hopes the event will give fans a chance to take a break from the many arguments about the United States and remind them there are things to celebrate, such as local heroes. He is encouraged by the number of younger veterans who have reached out to help with the event, including many he did not yet know.

“I hope we pack the stands,” Colin said.