As part of their ongoing support for Georgia Southern athletics and in the spirit of patriotism, Optim Orthopedics and Nine Line Apparel have a special tribute to America planned for Saturday’s home football game against Florida Atlantic University.
At 5:35 p.m., 25 min before kickoff, a group of seven WWII-era aircraft will fly over Paulson Stadium including a P51 Mustang, P63 Kingcobra, F4U Corsair and several T6 Texans piloted by The Commemorative Air Force (CAF), Dixie Wing of Peachtree Georgia.
One guest passenger, sponsored by The National Museum of the Mighty 8th Air Force, P51 Mustang will be 94-year-old Gordon Fenwick a former WWII B-17 radio operator/gunner.
Of the 12,732 B-17s built before the end of World War II, 4,735 were lost in combat. Fenwick ﬂew 35 bombing missions over Germany with the 401st Bomb Group, part of The National Museum of the Mighty 8th Air Force.
Each plane will be on display at the Statesboro-Bulloch County Airport starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday until takeoff and when they return to land. During this time, guests are welcome to take photos, meet the pilots and give thanks to the veterans of the Mighty Eighth Air Force.
The honorable Paul Grassey, a 97-year-old author and former B-24 pilot, is a volunteer docent with The National Museum of the Mighty 8th Air Force. He will sing the national anthem at Paulson before kickoff.
Grassey flew 13 combat missions for the 446th Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force, over Europe. He chronicled his experiences in the book “It’s Character that Counts.”
The game ball will be delivered by a four-person team from the All Veteran Group parachute team hosted by Nine Line Apparel. Descending from a height of more than 12,000 feet, these American heroes will deliver the game ball as well as GS’s mascot Gus to the center of the ﬁeld. Optim Orthopedics physicians – Drs. Delan Gaines, Don Aaron and Justin Lancaster – serve as athletic team physicians.
Overall, Optim Orthopedics has team physicians representing 36 different high school, collegiate and profession sport programs.
In addition to Optim’s sponsorship, Saturday’s pre-game festivities honoring the military are made possible through partnerships with several organizations, including The Commemorative Air Force (CAF); Dixie Wing, Nine Line Apparel, The National Museum of the Mighty 8th Air Force, Statesboro/Bulloch County Airport Committee and Bulloch County Board of Commissioners.
The pre-game events also serves as a way for Optim to help with fundraising for Georgia Southern students. Co-pilot seats in each plane participating in the ﬂyover will be auctioned off to raise money for the Erk Russell Fund and the Georgia Southern Athletic Foundation.
One of these seats is reserved for the GS student body and Georgia Southern Cheer team, which is currently raising funds for a veteran teacher to ride as part of Teacher Appreciation.
To help the students support the all teachers, use Venmo code: @GSUFLyover