Sean D. Tucker
|Sean D. Tucker|
April 27, 1952 |
Eagle Rock, CA
|Spouse(s)||Colleen Tucker (m. 1977)|
Sean Doherty Tucker (born April 27, 1952) is an American aerobatic pilot who is sponsored by the Oracle Corporation and performs in airshows worldwide as Team Oracle. Tucker has won several airshow championship competitions throughout his career and was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2008. He currently serves as Chairman of the Experimental Aircraft Association's Young Eagles program.
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. Tucker started out as a cropduster, eventually starting a cropdusting business in Salinas, California. 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." 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. 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.
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.
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."
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.
Awards and recognition
- Second recipient and first non-namesake recipient of the R.A. "Bob" Hoover Trophy (chosen by Hoover himself) - 2017
- Lloyd P. Nolen Lifetime Achievement in Aviation Award - 2016
- EAA AirVenture Freedom of Flight Award - 2010
- General Charles E. Yeager International Aeronautical Achievement Award - 2010
- San Diego Air & Space Museum International Aviation Hall of Fame - 2009
- National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) – 2008
- International Council of Air Shows Foundation Hall of Fame - 2007
- Living Legends of 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 United States Air Force Gathering of Eagles – 2001
- 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 - 1992 
- The Bill Barber Award for Air Show Showmanship – 1992 
- U.S. National Advanced Aerobatic Champion – 1988
- Honorary Member - U.S. Navy Blue Angels, US Air Force Thunderbirds, U.S. Army Golden Knights, Canadian Forces Snowbirds, & Brazilian Smoke Squadron
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.
Tucker's first accident occurred in 1979, when he had to parachute out of his disabled aerobatic airplane.
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.
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.
- "Sean Tucker". National Aviation Hall of Fame. Retrieved 5 April 2011.
- Yakov M. Hirschon, "The World's Top Stunt Pilot", ZMAN, September 2012, page 90.
- "Stunt Pilot," Boy's Life, April 1994, page 19.
- "About Sean Tucker". Retrieved 2007-11-04.
- FilmStew.com, Harrison Ford Frames Documentary About Beloved Aviation Pioneer, July 30, 2014
- "Tucker Accepts Hoover Trophy". AOPA. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
- Wings Over Houston
- EAA Freedom of Flight Award
- Engineers' Council
- San Diego AIr & Space Museum International Aviation Hall of Fame
- ICAS Foundation Inductee
- Living Legends of Aviation
- Aero Club of NorCal
- ICAS Sword of Excellence
- Bill Barber Award for Air Show Showmanship
- Thunderbirds Alumni - History
- Golden Knights Honorary Roster
- Snowbirds Honorary Members
- "Stunt plane crashes after control stick breaks". Retrieved 2007-11-04.
- Flying Magazine Flying Magazine - What It Takes To Be A Top Airshow Pilot, April 20, 2016, page 20