Buying a Swift...

MONTY THE ANSWER MAN ARCHIVE...

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BECOMING A SWIFT "CARETAKER"... (11499)

To become the caretaker of a living, breathing, flying Swift is the dream and goal of every person needing to fill that deep aeronautical craving in their soul that only this classic airplane can satisfy. Some of those in search of a Swift eventually discover that, while the desire is strong, the financial resources are lacking. To these individuals the relative low cost of "adopting" a project Swift might be the only way to initially afford one. We also must realize that for some, it may not be the cost that inspires them toward the resurrection of a needy Swift. To many the restoration process itself is considered the best of quality time well spent and more than sufficient motivation to take on a project. These passionate souls with a mechanical aptitude the rest of us can only dream about sincerely feel that the pleasure and reward of working on a Swift, when compared to flying a Swift, is simply a lateral transfer. I know many Swifters who fit this description and admire them greatly for accomplishing that which I am poorly equipped to emulate.

What those of us in the World of the Swift truly hope for when we discover a project has found a new owner is that the airplane emerges renewed rather than continuing to suffer from further neglect. Those who see their involvement with a Swift as merely a way to turn a fast buck will never get the same kind of help and respect from the group that those with the true Swift spirit receive. These soulless speculators are quickly identified by the faithful and only get enough help and advice as is required to insure that the Swift in question will be preserved with the hope that someday it will go to a good home.

Then there are the truly neglected Swifts. The ones that despite all efforts by concerned Swifters are imprisoned by their jailers who only care to brag at cocktail parties that, "Why yes, I own an airplane". The fact that they refer to their possession as merely an "airplane" further indicts them as being guilty of ignorance to the true spirit of the Swift. In those unfortunate situations our only hope is that eventually these misguided individuals will surrender the mortal remains of their slowly corroding, grounded Swifts to a deserving and dedicated caretaker who will then lovingly restore them to flight. (In extreme cases it is only the inevitability of the "estate sale" that becomes the Swift's best last hope...)

It is indeed proper for Dale to point out that those individuals with the time, patience, dedication, and skill to take a grounded Swift and get it back in the air be recognized. The "Swift hospital" may not exist on the scale that Dale suggests but wherever an individual owner or small shop cares for the Swift, we who love this classic craft are the better for it...

Denis Arbeau
GTS Homepage Webmaster
GTS Internet Update Editor

SWIFT SHOPPING...

A number of you who get this are shopping for a Swift and recent events concerning prospective Swift purchasers prompted us to pass along some advice. In the “word-to-the-wise” category, any would-be Swift purchaser should take the time and expense to make sure of the mechanical condition and legality of the Swift he/she plans to purchase. Remember, these are not new airplanes and a LOT can happen in 50+ years. Recently around the country, Swifts have been purchased that had many not-so-obvious problems which weren’t discovered until AFTER money exchanged hands and papers were signed. Also, other Swift shoppers have had a knowledgeable Swift mechanic look over the logbooks of their prospective purchases and have found in some cases numerous modifications that did not have proper documentation.

Needless to say, these mechanical and documentation problems can take substantial time and money to rectify. Truth be known, some purchasers are really not all that concerned about “paperwork”. Well, if they want to take that road that is their decision, and responsibility... And it has to be said in the defense of the sellers that in the vast majority of cases the sellers are sometimes just as surprised as the purchaser to learn that certain items are in need of repair or not documented properly. (Or at least act like they are...) We are at the mercy of those we hire to inspect our airplanes and sometimes the mechanics might end up missing a thing or two here and there. It is so important, and has been proven time and again, that someone familiar with Swifts should be employed to look after their “care and feeding”.

Those that have been there are quick to say that it was worth it to have someone knowledgeable look things over before any deal was done. It is wise to avoid paying “top-dollar” for a Swift that will need more dollars on top of that. Knowledge of work needing to be done might help the purchaser bargain for a more realistic price. It stands to reason that paper work and/or mechanical challenges should require adjusting the purchase price accordingly. That would help allow one to take care of the problems with the moony saved by not paying top dollar in the first place. It has been suggested that top dollar should only be paid for a Swift with a “clean record” and no outstanding mechanical defects.

Nowadays it is almost impossible to find a Swift without at least one or two “skeletons” in it’s closet at best. You pays your money and takes your chances. It is up to you how much of a “chance” you are willing to take. Only when, (and, I guess, if...), AVIAT starts building new Swifts will it be possible to know that the “closet” is truly empty. -- Denis Arbeau


SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT PURCHASING EXPERIMENTAL CATEGORY AIRCRAFT FROM SWIFT EXPERT DON BARTHOLOMEW...

The Experimental category has about six classifications under it. Depending on which class it is in determines how the plane may be operated. Experimental/Exhibition typically limits the plane to be flown ONLY to/from an exhibition, in that exhibition, or practice for that exhibition. Passenger carrying MAY be limited. One has to look VERY closely at the operating limitations that go with the particular aircraft. If you move the aircraft to a new FAA region, the operating limitations may be changed (for better or worse, usually worse). All AD’s that were issued to the original aircraft, engine, prop, and accessories still apply in the experimental category. A minimum of an A&P will still have to sign off the work and the relicense inspections.

The plane may be harder to sell because there is a smaller market out there that wants an experimental Swift.

The possibility of getting a Swift back in standard category from it’s current configuration at this time is slim. The modifications that put it in experimental in the first place may be difficult to inspect or document. To get the plane back in standard category, the plane would have to be modified back to the original type certificate and/or approved modifications. Some things would be impossible to return to standard, for example, putting flush rivets back to protruding head. The mods may be able to be approved but it would take a DER to sign them off.

Look closely at ANY modified Swift you might consider buying. There are a lot of planes out there with many mods and no paperwork to back them up.

SOMETIMES, FINDING A SWIFT AIN'T ALL THAT EASY... (4499)

Subject: I'm Back !
From: Edward A Lloyd <edlloydaustin@juno.com>
I managed to look up four Swifts in my travels. One I found in Hagerstown, MD. but was not for sale. A lady helicopter pilot owned it and only flew the bird infrequently, but not for sale. The second bird was in Chestertown MD. and was for sale but was disassembled. Guy wanted 25K. I wished him well. The third machine was in Miami FL. The airframe was in excellent condition, little or no corrosion evident except on the engine. Had one jug off ,so not possible to do a good compression check. The valve covers, pushrod tubes, cylinder barrels, etc., were all rusted not corroded just plain old rust. The cockpit was gutted. Nothing there but the 150 seats. No evidence of wires anywhere so the bird would have required a complete rewiring from the engine on back. The engine , in my opinion, would have to gone through completely. I would not have trusted it otherwise. Sooo, I have turned my back on that one at least for now, until I can confer with Joe Sills. The guy was asking 18K and wanted me to make him an offer, but I decided to not do that. Figure I had in mind was about 12K but I kept it to myself. The other bird was in MS. But was in deplorable condition. So, I'm back with no leads except the one I flew in Ft. Worth a month ago. Haven't written it off yet. The quest continues. Cheers Ed Lloyd

TEXAS SWIFTER ED LLOYD GETS FAN MAIL... (11399)

Internet Swifter George Montgomery is looking for a Swift and decided to get the advice of Ed Lloyd who recently went through the Swift purchase routine. Great advice from Ed follows.

Dear Ed,
Saw the bit on you and your Swift on the Swift homepage, thought I would drop a note with some questions. Like you, I am a retired Air Force pilot (C-123, B-57, C-118 and C-130). I retired in '82. The B-57 flew a bit like a giant T-37 with very heavy controls. Anyway, I first ran across the Swift bug in the early 70's when I switched from the B-57 to the C-118, looked at several $3,000 to $5,000 was the going price back then. I never got the nerve to buy one. Alaska just did not seem like Swift country, more of a Super Cub kinda place. I found the Swift page a couple of months ago and the bug is back. Could you give me an idea of how you found the actual sale prices to be in relation to the advertised prices. I would be interested in similar in powerplant, Mods,Nav/comm equip,as the jewel you found. I could accept a lot rougher cosmetic appearance than yours. I think your conclusion of a flyer over a project is a very sound one, Thanks for any assistance/advice you might give. George M. Montgomery <gmmjr@swbell.net>

Hi George,
Sounds like you're going down the same route I traveled on my Swift quest. Believe it or not the first Swift I flew was in Alaska at Fairbanks in 1957. One of the ROs in the interceptor outfit I was in had one he had purchased up there for 2500 bucks. Obviously, the prices have skyrocketed since those days. The one I stumbled into, quite by chance, was the best and most reasonable Swift I found.

The first thing I must tell you is this, if you are not thoroughly familiar with the airplane, don't put any money on one until you have a VERY knowledgeable Swift person look it over. You can really get bit in short order. Example: guy bought a Swift in the southwest and had the airplane flown to a Swift mechanic for some sheet metal work and painting plus annual. When all the work was done, he came to fly the airplane back east with an experienced Swift pilot. The owner had not flown the airplane and bought it. After takeoff on the initial flight with the Swift instructor, the prop would not come out of low pitch. Found there was an internal engine problem with oil pressure that kept the prop from operating properly. The owner is facing an engine overhaul or change out. More bucks and he still doesn't have a flying Swift.

When I bought mine, I made an offer with the understanding that I had the right to refuse the offer to purchase if something showed up on the pre-buy inspection/ annual that I did not like. I had already flown the airplane and done some acro in it so I was satisfied with the fact the engine and airframe were reasonably sound. I had a SWIFT EXPERIENCED mechanic look at the airplane to include pulling the wing tips so I could personally look inside the wings for corrosion. The annual was completed at the same time as the pre-buy inspection and I was present when the IA did his look at the airplane. Everything was ok so I bought it. Personally, the way Swifts are selling now days, price that is , I think I made one hell of a deal. A Swift that is flying in half way decent shape is going to be in the high twenties. I know of one that has been for sale in Mass. for quite awhile, and the guy is asking 29.5K. It's painted and the guy I bought mine from told me he had seen the airplane and felt that was too much for what was there. Swifts are probably one of the most highly modified production airplanes ever built. That is another reason for having a very knowledgeable mechanic look one over before it's bought. An awful lot of these mods have been done and not documented or STC approval not obtained from the person or company that owns the STC. I even have a few on my bird that were not properly documented. Now, the FAA requires written approval from the owner of the STC. That is for monetary reasons to protect the owner of the STC.

One of the biggest things in buying a Swift to look out for is corrosion. The airplane has been around for over 50 years and they have not always been cared for properly. The other thing, it is a retractable and if you find one that hasn't been on it's belly, you have an anomalie. Mine was bellied but there was very little skin damage and no spar damage. The engine was changed out from a 125 to a 145 after that incident so I have no crank worries, at least from sudden stoppage like during ground contact. I see a Swift advertised on the web page that should be a good machine. I did not pursue it after I found mine. The airplane has been owned by the same individual for over 30 years he says. He's asking 31.5. Only problem, It's a 125. That's not necessarily bad but I consider the price to be a bit high for a 125. I guess it all comes down to this, in my opinion, If you find a flying Swift in decent condition you're going to pay right at 30K.

Will the owners haggle, sure they will, depending on how bad they need to move the airplane. I have talked to the guy in MA. He is wide open for offers. I have also seen him advertise for a short while at 23.5. That may have been an error because the next time I saw it in trade-a-plane, it was back to 29.5. Don't buy a non flying project unless you can do the bulk of the labor and have it signed off by an A&P. I just coached a young guy through a Swift hunt and I did my damndest to get him into a flying bird. He bought one of the projects that I had looked at. God only knows the last time the airplane was anywhere close to the end of a runway under it's own power. He will put out 25 to 30 K to get this airplane into flying condition. The airplane is totally disassembled. One wing is totally apart George, I hope that sheds some light on what you were interested in. If you're serious, don't throw this message away, refer to it often during your hunt! Cheers......and check six.............Ed Lloyd

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