Sean D. Tucker
Sean D. Tucker (born 1952) is an American aerobatic pilot who performs in airshows worldwide for Team Oracle. Tucker is a leader in the airshow business as well as in the larger aviation industry. He was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2008.
Tucker, a native of Eagle Rock, California, earned his pilot’s certificate at age 17. He has been flying airshows worldwide since the mid-1970s and is considered the world’s premier airshow performer. 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 has been named one of the Living Legends in Aviation, is the recipient of the Crystal Eagle Award, was an inductee at the 2001 USAF Gathering of Eagles, and was named one of the Living Legends of Flight.
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 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."
Awards and recognition
- EAA Young Eagles Chairman- 2013
- EAA AirVenture Freedom of Flight Award - 2010
- National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) – 2008
- Living Legend in Aviation Award – 2007
- Crystal Eagle Award by the National Aeronautics Association – 2006
- Named one of the 25 “Living Legends of Flight” by the National Air & Space Smithsonian – 2003
- Inductee in the USAF Gathering of Eagles – 2001
- Honorary Thunderbird, Blue Angel, Snowbird
- World Airshow Federation Champion – 2000
- International Council of Airshows Sword of Excellence – 2000
- Undefeated Champion of the Championship Airshow Pilots Association Challenge – 1998–2001
- General Aviation News and Flyer Reader’s Choice Award for Best Male Performer – 1997
- The Art Scholl Memorial Showmanship Award and The Bill Barber Award for Air Show Showmanship – 1992
- U.S. National Advanced Aerobatic Champion – 1988
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.
In 2006, the elevator (pitch control) system in one of Tucker's aerobatic aircraft broke, forcing him to bail out. Tucker sustained minor injuries and the aircraft he was flying was destroyed. He still performs, and has since participated in the 2007, 2012, and 2013 EAA AirVenture Oshkosh fly-in and airshow.
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 and 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.