Sean D. Tucker, the highly regarded aerobatic pilot, is practicing two to three times every day as he prepares for the start of the 2015 airshow season. This week, he plans to test-fly his primary airplane, which last weekend was still being rebuilt in his Salinas, Calif., hangar.
Rebuilt? Yes. The airplane is stripped down, taken apart, and rebuilt every year. The job–including new fabric, paint, engine, and prop–requires about 6,000 man-hours to complete. Overkill? No, especially when you consider the number of Gs, spins, and snap rolls the airframe endures in the course of a year.
While his mechanics complete the rebuild, Tucker practices in his older backup airplane. “This airplane is a little under-powered,” he said of his temporary steed. “If I can master the routine in this airplane, it will be easy in the other one.”
Another benefit of his regularly scheduled rebuild? He doesn’t have to worry about whether the airplane is in annual.
Will Tucker and his Challenger be performing near you this year? Check his airshow schedule online.