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Meeting Bethpage Air Show pilot Sean D. Tucker

Pilot Sean D. Tucker and his dog, Levi,

Pilot Sean D. Tucker and his dog, Levi, with Kidsday reporter James Haupt, 14, of Commack at Republic Airport in East Farmingdale. Credit: Newsday / Pat Mullooly

Imagine this . . . You are approximately 10,000 feet in the air soaring through the sky on a small one-seated plane. Below you are thousands of people watching you perform dangerous, yet thrilling, tricks. You are enjoying yourself and feel like nothing can stop you. Because nothing can.

This is what Sean D. Tucker experiences. As some of you may know, he is an aerobatic pilot who has performed thousands of shows over the course of 42 years. He is here this week because he is performing at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach this weekend. When I walked through the gate at Republic Airport in East Farmingdale, I was filled with a mixture of nervousness, happiness and curiosity. I was about to meet Mr. Tucker. My mom, grandparents and I were escorted to an open hangar loaded with planes of all shapes and sizes. None of those planes caught my attention, besides maybe the Jack Links’ Beef Jerky plane because I was hungry. But the one I noticed was on the runway. It was Sean Tucker’s plane, The Oracle Challenger III. Of course, this was his favorite plane. While I was waiting to meet Sean, I got to see the plane in action.

Soon after, Sean walked up to me and introduced himself. I started my interview with him after a quick break, so his dog Levi could use the bathroom. I wanted to know what made him want to become an aerobatic pilot. He talked to me about how his dad was a pilot and being an aerobatic pilot was a dream of his. When he told me about his dad being a pilot, I figured his kids might be pilots too. I was right. Sean’s son is an aerobatic pilot too. Sean also happened to talk to me about his air show performances. He has performed for big and small crowds, but he told me he prefers the smaller crowds. One of his biggest shows was in Chicago, where there were nearly 1 million people. When I mentioned the tricks he has performed during his shows, he told me he loved all of them. He especially loves doing front flips. Throughout his career, Sean was extremely fortunate to have not been seriously injured during his stunts. His job is hard work. As most people know, Sean is joining a performance group after being a solo pilot his whole life. He told me it was a new chapter and a new challenge in his life.

After my interview, Sean gave me a tour of his plane. He showed me what the plane was made of and how the controls worked. He also told me that he must always wear a parachute to be safe and explained to me how to use it. I then took pictures with Sean, and he gave me a signed hat! Now, I really want to buy tickets to one of his airshows to see him in action. I enjoyed this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

You can see him this weekend at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach. For more information, check it out online: bethpageairshow.com

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