August 14, 2009

Flying with Team Oracle Prior to the Chicago Air & Water Show

team_oracle.jpgEach year at the Chicago Air & Water Show Sean D. Tucker becomes a crowd favorite as he performers a memorable aerobatic routine in his Oracle Challenger bi-plane. I have always enjoyed his performances but it was an act outside of the plane that helped solidify him as my favorite airshow performer. A few years back at the Chicago Air & Water Show after a tiring performance he came down to show center and took the time to talk to the kids that were gathered and to sign a few autographs. His joy for flying was eaten up by the kids looking up to him and I realized he is one of the best ambassadors aviation could have.

In advance of this year's show I was offered the opportunity to spend half a day with Sean D. Tucker and Team Oracle and jumped at the opportunity. I had no doubts, but after meeting Sean it was obvious that he absolutely loves coming to work each and every day, in fact I am sure he wouldn't call it work. You can see his enthusiasm first hand in this Chicago Tribune video interview.

My day started by joining a few other photographers and videographers in the Team Oracle Piper Seneca. We shadowed Sean in his Oracle Challenger bi-plane and Ben Freelove in the Oracle Extra 300 as they conducted a formation flight over Chicago. This was an amazing experience to watch two extremely talented pilots communicate and manage formation flying. Additionally, it provided an amazing vantage point for taking photos and some video.

Shortly after we landed I moved from the bulky Piper Seneca and into the sporty Extra 300. Ben got us airborne then said a magical thing "You have the plane". From that point forward he let me fly for a good 15-20 minutes while teaching me how to do various aerobatic maneuvers. We started with the basic rolls and loops and then he taught me how to combine the basic moves to do more advanced maneuvers like the Immelmen, Hammerhead & Cuban Eight. I was amazed at how well this plane performed and how easy it made all of these maneuvers. I am sure it helped that Ben is a phenomenal instructor which I am sure is a result of his experiences teaching at the Tutima Academy of Aviation Safety.

I finished off by doing my first spin. In my five years of flying, I have never been through Spin training. I had always assumed it was somewhat dangerous since it was not part of mainstream training. I was surprised to learn how easy it was to recover from a spin.

Prior to flying Sean had told me to be sure to have Ben show off the a few high-G maneuvers. After I had my share of flying I gave Ben his plane back and he put me through a 7.5G Hammerhead and then a high-G somersaulting roll, both of which were amazing. I love flying in general, but today's flight was an experience like no other I have had and I think I now have the aerobatic flying bug. I think I will have to seek out more opportunities to fly in an Extra 300.

If you are in the Chicago Area be sure to get out to the lakefront this weekend and enjoy the Team Oracle performance!

To the right you will find a few videos from both flights and also some photos below. I apologize for the shakiness of my video from the Seneca, this was my first stab at aerial photography.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.
Posted by at August 14, 2009 1:30 AM

Great videos, and good job flying too!

Posted by: Charlene Gervais at August 14, 2009 7:15 AM | Reply

Nice pictures and article. Thanks for sharing. I need to jump on this New Media thing so I can get some media rides :)

Posted by: Kevin Kanarski at August 14, 2009 10:30 AM | Reply

Great video! I really enjoyed being the fly on the canopy watching your first aerobatic lesson. This really makes me want to go get some aerobatic training!

Posted by: Tim at August 15, 2009 10:32 AM | Reply

Great Videos.. You should contact the bizymoms Waco community to get your article featured to their large mom community.

Posted by: Shanice at August 15, 2009 11:45 AM | Reply

Don't go getting down on yourself - those are some amazing photos! Loved the video from the Extra ride too, what an experience.

I've done spins (they require them where I trained here in OH) and I agree, they're way too much fun.

Posted by: Steve at August 16, 2009 1:05 PM | Reply

Hey - Great site! I really enjoyed that video -- I just took my first aerobatic ride last week.

I started a blog ( and started looking for more aviation blogs and found yours. I'll post a link to your site from my blog and look forward to reading more posts!

Posted by: Brian at August 21, 2009 12:21 AM | Reply

What an incredible experience! I didn't realize you got to go up and fly the Extra, I would have been grinning ear to ear (but 7+Gs might make it look like a frown) the whole time!

Thanks for sharing the flight with us straight and level guys.

And grab a CFI and a 152 if you want more spins. Probably not as thrilling, but it's still a load of fun.

Posted by: Pat Flannigan at August 25, 2009 1:25 PM | Reply

Wow! Flying with Team Oracle! That's a great experience. I'm envious.

Posted by: Mark at February 24, 2010 12:01 AM | Reply

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