|Sean D. Tucker is the new Young Eagles honorary chairman. (photo by Phil Weston)
By Barbara A. Schmitz
August 1, 2013 - Sean D. Tucker has many titles to his name. He's the U.S. National Advanced Aerobatic Champion, winner of numerous showmanship awards, a Living Legend of Aviation, and an honorary Thunderbird, Blue Angel, and Golden Knight - to name a few.
But as of Thursday's Gathering of Eagles, Tucker is also the new Young Eagles honorary chairman, replacing Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles, the airline pilots known for their expert handling of their emergency landing in the Hudson River - the so-called Miracle on the Hudson.
Tucker will be the spokesman and help guide the agenda for the program that hopes to get youth hooked on flight by offering free flights with EAA volunteer pilots.
"It's my second full-time job," says Tucker, whose aerobatic acts have wowed EAA AirVenture Oshkosh visitors for decades. "That's how committed I am to this legacy."
Tucker says EAA's mentorship helped him gain success as an air show performer. "That's why I made this commitment to spread the word about aviation and make this program more successful."
He says all the past Young Eagles chairmen - Cliff Robertson, Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager, Harrison Ford, and Sullenberger and Skiles - have left the program in great shape. "But I will strive to do an even better job. Everything good that has happened in my life is because of EAA members' involvement."
|Tucker At A Glance
He started aerobatic lessons to overcome his fear of stalling the plane.
He has logged more than 20,000 flying hours.
He has entertained more than 80 million fans in more than 1,000 performances at 425 air shows.
More than half of his maneuvers are original and have never been duplicated by another aerobatic pilot.
He is the only civilian performer ever to be allowed to fly close formation with the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds.
"I'm ready to rock it."
Tucker says he plans to spread the word about Young Eagles through the air show and media markets. But he also hopes to inspire the pilots who fly children through the program.
"I will be the voice, but it's the men and women who volunteer their time that really make this program so successful," he says. "I want to honor them; they are the unsung heroes."
He says he plans to lead by example. "I will get the word out to chapters and make personal visits with my airplane so I can fly with these kids."
Tucker has also flown many youth in the past, including some Young Eagles. "I love sharing the magic of flight," he says. "Once a person leaves the ground, it changes their perspective. It's something they never forget."
Whether or not they become a pilot, they have seen the world from angel's eyes. "It changes them profoundly," Tucker says. "It's uplifting, inspiring, empowering...."
Tucker says he was humbled to be asked to become the honorary chairman. "I'm a worker man, a blue-collar guy who isn't a celebrity. But I am passionate and reverent about how flight can change your life and define a person as a human being. This is the greatest confidence every bestowed on me."