This article and photos is the last of three parts written by Kevin Burke, who was fortunate to witness Sean D. Tucker’s flying prowess closer than most! The 2018 air show campaign will be Mr. Tucker’s final solo aerobatic season. The series first ran in our sister publication CivilAviationWorld.com.
The Man: Sean Tucker
To endure the extreme physical demands of his performance and remain G tolerant, Tucker maintains a physical training schedule, working out more than 340 days per year.
Tucker practices his air show routine as many as three times every day during the air show season.
During his 13 minute Sky dance performance, Tucker will pull more than 9 positive G forces and more than seven negative G forces.
More than half of Tucker’s power aerobatic maneuvers are unique.
Tucker is the world’s only pilot to perform the triple ribbon cut, in which flies just 20 feet above the ground cutting ribbons on poles placed a mere 750 feet apart. The last cut is done inverted at approximately 250 miles per hour.
Tucker has flown more than 1,300 performances at upwards of 540 air shows in front of over 145 million fans.
He has been thrilling air show fans since 1976. He is now 66 years old and has been named by the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum as a living legend of flight.
The Machine: Oracle Challenger III
It is a tube and fabric airplane, consisting of a steel frame and special fabric skin from the cockpit back to the tail. The vertical fin is covered in carbon graphite.
The engine is a 400 + horsepower, custom-built Lycoming AE-10 – 540 engine that turns a Hartzell 3 blade propeller.
This engine features aluminum drag racing Pistons, a cold air induction system and state-of-the-art fuel injection. It is inspected and rebuilt after roughly 400 hours of flying to maintain peak engine performance.
A revolutionary set of wings on the aircraft features eight ailerons instead of four, allowing Tucker to make precise aerobatic movements.
The aircraft weighs just over 1200 pounds and can reach a top speed of 300 miles per hour.