Flying Lady

Sean Tucker: The sky's The Limit

A Q&A with Sean Tucker, World Champion aerobatic aviator.

What's Your Adventure?

I fly to make people happy, I get to entertain and thrill them while also perfecting the beautiful art of sky dancing. My name is Sean D. Tucker and I’ve performed in air shows worldwide, have been inducted in the National Aviation Hall of Fame and been named one of Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s 25 living Legends of Flight. But in my mind I’m still a student of the art form, I’m still a student of the game. When I wake up in the morning on a show day it’s high pressure to where sometimes I can’t even think, where I can’t even communicate with anybody – because I want to live. I don’t leave my house without kissing my wife goodbye and telling her I love her. I don’t go to work mad. I don’t put any baggage in my head that’s negative.

Tell us a bit about your background

I grew up hanging out at small airports with my father, William Tucker. He was an aviation industry lawyer who taught me to fly airplanes. At 17, I began taking flying lessons and earned my private pilot’s certificate license. Frankly, I was terrified of stalling in the airplane and so enrolled in an aerobatic course to conquer this fear. After that first magnificent roll, when the airplane didn’t fall out of the sky, it was hook line and sinker and I was sold. It became my passion and goal: to take flying out of just the x and y axis and explore the art of the z-axis through sky dancing.

My plane for Oracle was custom made just for me. She goes 300 miles an hour and has a roll rate of 400 degrees a second, sees 12 positive G’s 8 negative G’s, flies backwards tail-first or 800 feet tumbles in over 10 times. She has been donated to the Smithsonian and is now traveling the world on her own but instead of the sky, in museums.

What do you love about what you do?

For the majority of my career I got to travel all over the country with the best jet teams in America, the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels. I’m obsessed with increasing the safety of pilots of all types of planes including general aviation, military, government, and commercial aviators. In 1997 I started the Sean D Tucker School of Aerobatic Flight now known as the Tutima Academy of Aviation safety, the world’s premier precision flight training school. We have a wonderfully talented team; every single instructor is an active airshow pilot and passionate about both the importance of safety in the sky and the beauty of the art form of aerobatic flight.

It’s as intense as I can handle, the mental capacity it takes to fly in formation is exhausting, but I’m loving it because every single day I’m flying I learn something. We’re searching for perfection. I don’t know if we’ll ever get there, but we are becoming excellent. You can’t be perfect, but you can be excellent. I’m scared of killing myself in front of the audience. I will not get in the cockpit mad. I will not fly in an airplane that is potentially disabled. I’m going to honor my commitment to be a true performer. When I’m in the arena, total conviction of purpose. Totally committed to the dance. To perfection. To excellence, when people watch me fly.

I look back and think about how amazing this all has been. I have a lot of joy in the cockpit because I have dedicated my life to my friends who have taught me all about celebrating who we are. I am just going to do the best to fly the airplane – I was having fun and as long as you have joy in the cockpit you are making the right decisions, as long as you have joy in your life, you are making the right decisions. And what gives me joy is to be right here and share in the magic of flight.

How do you Pair Your adventure?

I would pair my passion and enthusiasm for the art of Flying with the Flying Lady Cabernet Sauvignon. It is both a big red bold Cab but with an artistically balanced characteristic. Just like my approach to flying. Go in with the pursuit of perfection while maintaining a balanced head and you’ll come out with an excellent experience.

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