Guest blog: Dramamine for breakfast before flying loops at the D - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV


Guest blog: Dramamine for breakfast before flying loops at the Dayton Air Show

Sean D. Tucker Sean D. Tucker
FOX19 -

Hi! I'm Kris and I'm a big fat chicken.

You don't know me because I'm one of the quieter XIX'ers and am normally chained to desk. But occasionally, they let me loose and I'm inviting you along for the ride at the Vectren Dayton Air Show.

Today, we ride with Sean D. Tucker, arguably the best aerobatics pilot in the US, and a genuinely nice guy. Handsome too, but I digress.

To clarify, I'm not afraid to fly with Sean because he's a National Aviation Hall of Famer, an honorary Blue Angel, honorary Thunderbird- you name it, he's achieved it. What I'm scared of is heights and getting sick.

Fret not; Dramamine for breakfast. A friend told me to ask Sean to take it easy on me, but I simply cannot sissy out like that. Chris Rudd, a Team Oracle member asked me if I was ready and to prove I knew what I was doing, I pulled two Kroger (one of our advertisers, yay!) bags out of my back pocked, and as a courtesy tucked in my shirt because, well, you come down with what you went up with, if you get my drift.

Chris laughed and took my bags away, telling me “You're not gonna need that, you're going to be outstanding!” He had more faith in me than I did. But he also admitted there are two large baggies in the plane, just in case.

Chris helped me into a parachute that cost two month's salary, and taught me how to make a quick exit from the plane, if necessary. I have to hand it to the team; it could get awkward helping people into the parachutes and other harnesses, but he handled it well. I would insert a few cheap jokes here, but who knows who might be reading.

You'd normally see Sean perform in the Oracle III, but to take guests up he flies a two-seater Oracle Extra 300L. As we waited at the end of the runway for the chase plane to depart (that's the one where they harness up the photographers and tether then to the plane- the door is removed to provide better shots.

You're tethered so you don't lean out too far and fall out of the plane, or be tempted to push a photog out because they're in your shot. (Hey, we've all thought it.)

Sean explained that we'll wait for them to take off and get airborne, just in case something happens to them and we don't run into the mess. Might not want to lead with that, but I was a captive audience.

The weather this morning was trying my patience; rain or thunderstorms? The day before, everyone was grounded. My prayers (begging) worked, and we were off.

To enter the heavens is always fun, but this time- this time it was spectacular. It felt like we were dancing in the air, climbing up to the clouds, sliding through them and finding new ones. There were a few ominous, dark clouds that we ignored, popped over them and nestled among the pristine white ones.

“How was that?” Sean asked and I was flabbergasted. “Beautiful, isn't it?” he chuckled.

“This is flying with the angels,” he told me and truer words were never spoken.

Thanks to the bubble canopy the world was open to me in a marvelous new way; a miracle of sorts. We just don't look up enough in regular life! But to look up, around, over and see the clouds close enough to touch against the beautiful blue sky- look up the poem High Flight. You'll know what I'm talking about.

Sean took me through loops, we flew upside down, he let me do a sound bite (which I flubbed), we flew up over and around the chase plane- and I didn't yak, didn't squeal like a little girl, or drop any bad words. Loved every moment of it. He's such a sweetheart; periodically he'd ask how my tummy was doing.

We landed safe and sound. A reporter from the FOX affiliate in Dayton was going up next. Someone commented that upon her return, she looked a little peaked. I gave her my baggy of Skyline (another of our advertisers, yay!) crackers to help settle her stomach. FOX girls need to take care of each other. And in her defense, Mr. Rudd did tell me that air sickness is a bad thing, that it can take a few days to recover from. Ew.

Sean works hard on his passion for flying; even though all the awards are nice, he's more concerned with challenging himself and being the best he possibly can. Flying is a dangerous sport, but he began before he met Coleen, his wife of 38 years, so he insists, “What can she do?! She knew it when she met me!”

Not just dangerous for his loved one's nerves, but positive and negative G forces are tough on the body. He weighs 170, but during certain maneuvers, it can feel like his body is ten times heavier. Then there's that whole “all the blood wants to punch out your eyeballs” thing. Direct quote.

I knew Sean was a gentleman, a big sweetie but I couldn't help but ask… has he ever flown a VIP and been tempted to put them through the wringer? Turns out some twenty years or so ago, there was a cocky Blue Angel who vowed to make him pass out. He didn't. And when the tables were turned, he took the high road and gave the guy a challenging flight, but not enough to push him to pass out. Can't help but think it would've been fun to be an observer then.

What's Sean Tucker's advice to someone who's afraid to fly? “Have courage!!”

Thanks to Sean and his fantastic team for an experience that rates right up there with wing walking and meeting a few of the Doolittle Raiders. It was an honor to fly with a living legend, and someone who was concerned about my tummy, and kind enough to give my Dad an autographed hat.

Up next- tomorrow, flying in Panchito, a B-25 Mitchell. Stay tuned! And if you come to the Dayton Air Show this weekend, I'll be the slack-jawed idiot in the FOX19 shirt and hat. Stop and say hi, just don't judge me for the mismatched logos though; we quiet ones get overlooked for that kind of stuff.

Blue skies, baby!

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