Tucker, Sean Doherty
Air Show Performer/InstructorEnshrined 2008 1952-Present
Sean Tucker says he was a “very, very fearful flyer.” He knew he could have a panic attack if he even banked the plane more than 30 degrees and claims his eyes were probably closed during the power-out stall on his check ride. So Tucker faced his fear and took an aerobatic class. “When you conquer that fear, you become stronger. And I fell in love with what I was afraid of.”
Tucker has won the U.S. National Advanced Aerobatic Championship, the World Aerobatic Federation Championship, the International Council of Air Shows Sword of Excellence Award, and is a four-time winner of the Championship Airshow Pilot’s Association Challenge.
In 1992, he received the two most prestigious air show industry honors – the Art Scholl Memorial Showmanship Award and the Bill Barber Award for Airshow Showmanship.
In 1997, the Sean D. Tucker School of Aerobatic Flight, now known as the Tutima Academy of Aviation Safety, opened as the world’s premier precision flight training school to increase the safety of pilots of all types of planes, including general aviation, military, government and commercial aviators.
In 2005, Tucker formed the four-ship aerobatic team “The Collaborators.”
Born in Eagle Rock, California in 1952, Tucker grew up hanging out at small airports with his father, William, an aircraft-industry lawyer.
By the age of 17, Tucker had begun flight lessons but he still had that fear. To overcome the apprehension, he took up skydiving, but a parachuting accident claimed the life of a close friend early on and merely validated his fears.
So he briefly moved away from skydiving and into the front seat of the airplane. However, he was terrified of stalling the airplane and he enrolled in an aerobatics course to conquer this fear. After the first roll, when the airplane flew and didn’t fall out of the sky, it was ‘hook line and sinker,’ Tucker was sold. It then became his life’s passion and goal – to take flying out of just the x and y axis and to explore the art of the z-axis thru skydancing.
In 1976, he bought his first Pitts aerobatic biplane, and shortly thereafter began performing in local California air shows. In 1979, while practicing an attempt to break the record of 30 inverted flat spins, Tucker wasn’t able to stop the maneuver and he was forced to bail out of the Pitts.
During the early 80s, Tucker worked as a crop duster, flying Stearmans and Bell Model 47 helicopters. In 1988, after a string of successes in regional and state contests, he won the U.S. National Advanced Aerobatic Championship. In 1991, Tucker received his first sponsorship from Randolph Sunglasses to fly at air shows across the nation.
In 1994, MCI sponsored Tucker in the “1-800-Collect” plane and later, as the “10-10-220” airplane.
Tucker has flown over 700 performances at over 300 air shows throughout North America and Japan, has been award the World Aerobatic Federation Championship and the International Council of Air Shows Sword of Excellence award, and is a four-time winner of the CASPA – Championship Airshow Pilot’s Association – Challenge. In 1992, he became the first of only two individuals ever to win the two most prestigious air show industry honors in the same year – the Art Scholl Memorial Showmanship Award and the Bill Barber Award for Airshow Showmanship
Tucker’s daytime performance called “Sky Dance” is an original aerial program features many signature maneuvers. In the “Centrifuge,” reaching speeds of up to 230 miles per hour, Tucker puts the Oracle through a grueling eight to ten, end-over-end tumbles in a giant arc across the sky.
In the “Son of Edwin,” named after a friend and former performer, Tucker appears out of control as he performs a 200-mile per hour vertical climb and enters what’s called a lomchevak which transitions into a torque roll and culminates in a vertical slide back wards of over 100 mph backwards. He then swaps ends only to snap roll the airplane a few times and crisply stops with the nose of the Oracle pointing perfectly vertical to the tarmac below.
In 1997, the Sean D. Tucker School of Aerobatic Flight, now known as the Tutima Academy of Aviation Safety, opened as the world’s premier precision flight training school. Sean has a passion for sharing his love of aerobatics as well as a strong drive to increase the safety of pilots of all types of planes, including general aviation, military, government and commercial aviators. The world-renowned aviation academy teaches pilots to save their lives in case of an emergency. All of Sean’s instructors are professionals and passionate about both the importance of safety in the sky and the beauty of the art form of aerobatic flight. All of the instructors are active airshow pilots.
Tucker’s most recent challenge is the formation of “The Collaborators”, a four-ship aerobatic team that’s been performing for the past three years. The pilots are all instructors at his flight school, including son, Eric. He says it’s the most entertaining, dynamic, formation aerobatic team in the nation. The team members combine the grace of precision and formation aerobatic flying with the drama and the dynamics of solo flying because it’s all done during the routine.
The FAA has recognized Tucker’s commitment to aerobatics. He serves as an FAA designated ACE, or Airshow Certification Evaluator, where he spends countless hours counseling young air show performers on their routines. He has also served on air show industry oversight committees to review training, regulatory procedures and vital safety issues.
In true Tucker style, his ever-energetic personality, showmanship and love of flying are contagious. Whether he is talking to experienced pilots or enthusiastic fans, he leaves everyone awe-inspired.
Sean Tucker, “The Ambassador of Aerobatics” and of safety in the sky has earned his place in the National Aviation Hall of Fame.