Sean D. Tucker

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Sean D. Tucker
US Navy 040924-N-0620S-137 U.S. Air Force C-5 Galaxy aircrew Master Sgt. Rick Turpin, Tech. Sgt. Frank Falcone, and Maj. Star Smith, stop to take a photo with aerobatic pilot Sean Tucker.jpg
Tucker (2nd left) in 2004 posing with the aircrew of USAF C-5 Galaxy
Born (1952-04-27) April 27, 1952 (age 66)
Eagle Rock, CA
Residence Salinas, California
Occupation Airshow pilot
Years active 1976–present
Spouse(s)
Colleen Tucker (m. 1977)
Children Eric Tucker
Tara Tucker
Website Team Oracle

Sean Doherty Tucker (born April 27, 1952)[1] is an American aerobatic pilot who is sponsored by the Oracle Corporation and performs in air shows worldwide as Team Oracle. Tucker has won several air show championship competitions throughout his career and was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2008.[1] He currently serves as Chairman of the Experimental Aircraft Association's Young Eagles program.[2]

Career[edit]

Sean Tucker flying inverted with the US Navy Blue Angels over Seattle
Tucker flying under ribbons at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Sean Tucker, a native of Eagle Rock, California, earned his pilot’s certificate at age 17. His father, William, was an aviation industry lawyer who had learned to fly as part of his job.[3] Tucker started out as a cropduster, eventually starting a cropdusting business in Salinas, California.[4] In order to overcome his fear of crashing, he took an aerobatics course, through which he "found out you could roll an airplane upside down and it wouldn't fall out of the sky."[4] He has been flying airshows worldwide since the mid-1970s and is considered by many to be one of the world’s premier airshow performers. Tucker's favorite stunt is the "triple ribbon cut", where he uses his plane to cut three ribbons suspended between poles from three different angles.[4] Despite once having a fear of flying, Tucker has flown more than 1,000 performances at more than 425 airshows, in front of more than 80 million spectators.

Tucker's first sponsorship was with Randolph Sunglasses from 1993 through 1995, then in 1996 he transitioned to MCI under the 1-800-COLLECT and 10-10-220 brands until his start with Oracle in 2001.

Team Oracle states Tucker has been named one of the Living Legends of Aviation, is the recipient of the Crystal Eagle Award, was an inductee at the 2001 USAF Gathering of Eagles, and in 2003 was named one of the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum's 25 Living Legends of Flight.[5]

To endure the extreme physical demands of his acrobatic flying routine, Tucker maintains a rigorous physical training schedule, working out more than 340 days per year in a routine of jogging and weightlifting on alternating days. His other physical activities include mountain climbing, heli-skiing, cave SCUBA diving, and golfing. When asked about flying airshows, Tucker has said, "I like to think that I bring the fans dreams of flying into the plane with me and there's nowhere I’d rather be than in the cockpit. That’s why I train so hard to keep a finely tuned edge."

Tucker’s self-proclaimed goal is to "share the magic of flight with Team Oracle’s guests by inspiring and thrilling them. I want them to go away saying that the airshow was one of the most engaging days of their lives."

He is one of only a handful of civilian performers who have been allowed to fly close formation with the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds.[6]

In 2013, Tucker was appointed Chairman of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) program Young Eagles, which introduces and educates children aged 8 to 17 about aviation. It has given flights to over 2 million children around the world. Tucker is an annual fixture at the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh airshow each summer. At the 2016 event, Tucker was joined by past EAA Young Eagles chairmen Harrison Ford, Chesley Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles as they flew the 2 millionth Young Eagle.[7]

Tucker’s airplane[edit]

Oracle Challenger II

Tucker's airplane, the Oracle Challenger III biplane, is claimed to produce more than 400 horsepower, and weighs only 1,200 pounds. The Challenger III is equipped with a unique set of wings that use 8 ailerons instead of 4. The tail on the airplane is modeled after the tail used on high-performance radio control airplanes.

Accidents[edit]

Tucker's first accident occurred in 1979, when he had to parachute out of his disabled aerobatic airplane.[4]

In 1993, as he was climbing out of the parked stunt plane he used at the time, a Pitts S-2S biplane, a runaway aircraft on the ground collided with his aircraft. Tucker escaped unscathed, but damage to the wings on one side of his aircraft took ten days to repair.[4]

In 2006, the elevator (pitch control) system in Tucker's aerobatic aircraft broke during a practice aerobatic flight, forcing him to bail out over an empty farm field in Coushatta, Louisiana. He was uninjured, but the aircraft he was flying was destroyed.[8]

Tutima Academy[edit]

In 1997, Tucker started the Sean D. Tucker School of Aerobatic Flight, with the stated aim of setting and spreading the standard for aviation safety in aerobatics and aviation at large. In 2004, through a partnership with the Tutima Watch Company, the school became the Tutima Academy of Aviation Safety. The Academy, located in King City, California, offers a variety of courses including stall/spin recognition and recovery training, aerobatic proficiency training, a low-level aerobatic mentorship program, and formation aerobatic flight training.[9]

Popular culture[edit]

In 2009, Tucker was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show.[10] The segment featured an interview with Oprah Winfrey and a video segment where Tucker took a 29-year-old woman on an aerobatic flight to conquer her fear of flying.

In 2014, he and Harrison Ford starred in and framed Flying the Feathered Edge: The Bob Hoover Project, an independent aviation documentary detailing the life of aerobatic legend Bob Hoover.[11]

In 2015, CNN featured Tucker in a story titled "Does this man have the most dangerous job in America?".[12]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Tucker performing at the Cleveland National Air Show in 1999

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Sean Tucker". National Aviation Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 5, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Tucker Fully Engaged as Young Eagles Chairman". Experimental Aircraft Association. May 2014. Retrieved August 9, 2017. 
  3. ^ Yakov M. Hirschon, "The World's Top Stunt Pilot", ZMAN, September 2012, page 90.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Stunt Pilot," Boys' Life, April 1994, page 19.
  5. ^ "Team Oracle 2017 Media Kit" (PDF). Oracle. Retrieved August 9, 2017. 
  6. ^ "About Sean Tucker". Oracle. Retrieved November 4, 2007. 
  7. ^ "Harrison Ford Kicks Off 25th Anniversary of Young Eagles". Experimental Aircraft Association. Retrieved August 9, 2017. 
  8. ^ "Stunt plane crashes after control stick breaks". KLFY. Retrieved November 4, 2007. 
  9. ^ "What It Takes To Be A Top Airshow Pilot". Flying Magazine. April 20, 2016. p. 20. 
  10. ^ "Sean Tucker Team Oracle on The Oprah show 2009". October 28, 2009. Retrieved August 9, 2017 – via YouTube. 
  11. ^ FilmStew.com, Harrison Ford Frames Documentary About Beloved Aviation Pioneer, July 30, 2014
  12. ^ Patterson, Thom; Scott, Nick (July 31, 2015). "Does this man have the most dangerous job in America?". CNN. Retrieved August 9, 2017. 
  13. ^ "Tucker Accepts Hoover Trophy". AOPA. Retrieved March 9, 2017. 
  14. ^ Wings Over Houston
  15. ^ EAA Freedom of Flight Award
  16. ^ Engineers' Council
  17. ^ San Diego AIr & Space Museum International Aviation Hall of Fame
  18. ^ ICAS Foundation Inductee
  19. ^ Living Legends of Aviation
  20. ^ Aero Club of NorCal
  21. ^ ICAS Sword of Excellence
  22. ^ "Art Scholl Showmanship Award". International Council of Air Shows. Retrieved August 9, 2017. 
  23. ^ Bill Barber Award for Air Show Showmanship
  24. ^ Thunderbirds Alumni - History
  25. ^ Golden Knights Honorary Roster
  26. ^ Snowbirds Honorary Members

External links[edit]