year in September, Swifter Stan price hosts a Red River
Swift Wing Cookout in his hangar at Northwest Regional Airport,
Roanoke, Texas. R.L. "Cotton" Conder attended this year.
We were privileged to talk with him about his years at Globe
Aircraft and TEMCO. Cotton, age 83, has not lost his enthusiasm
for the Swift, his zest for life, nor his ability to tell
We want to share his experiences with other Swifters.
-- Phyllis Moses
September, 1945, Cotton Conder started working at Globe
Aircraft on Blue Mound Road in Saginaw, a small community
north of Ft. Worth, Texas. He recalls the early days; the
days when designers, engineers and test pilots watched a
feisty personal sport plane roll out the factory doors into
the hearts of eager purchasers. Wow! Was it sharp-looking.
Returning veterans admired its "hot fighter" look, even
though the horsepower of the first run was only 85 hp.
production for general aviation following WWII had slowed
to a crawl. The Globe Aircraft came out with the Swift.
Cotton considers himself lucky to have been part of this
aggressive aircraft company.
recalls many experiences about those vintage years. His
recollection of Globe Aircraft and the production of the
Swift in those early days is remarkable. He told us about
the struggles they faced as a new aircraft manufacturer
- struggles that would ultimately prove to be the downfall
of a promising corporation. The first production run filled
the initial demand for this airplane; yet because of the
exciting outlook for its future, the purchasing agents continued
to buy up thousands of dollars worth of parts: engines,
brakes, propellers, landing gears and other materials not
needed at the time. In the early days, Globe furnished TEMCO
parts and assemblies to build the standard model Swift under
warehouses, as well as TEMCO's, were bulging with excess
parts. Cotton said, "If the purchasing agent had stopped
buying supplies at the same time sales slowed down, and
if the work force had been reduced, then Globe might have
survived until sales picked up again. But the sales department's
projections for future sales, and the purchasing department's
free hand to spend were not coordinated properly."
anybody figured this out, all of the operating cash was
gone and the creditors were taking a long hard look at Globe's
ability to pay their bills.
bright young man joined Globe in 1946. His name was Roy
Gowin. Cotton and Roy worked together to facilitate bringing
the Swifts and new owners together. They were always available
when Swift owners needed advice regarding repairs and maintenance,
and Cotton ferried the Swifts all over the United States.
The two of them were convinced there was no other airplane
like it, so they even bought one for themselves.
created the A. & E. flying club, and spent many enjoyable
hours flying the Swift. Eventually, they sold it to a Swift
Executive, George Newman.
and Roy took care of the hundreds of new planes sitting
in storage. These were trying times for those who watched
the great Swift manufacturer, Globe aircraft, slide further
and further into bankruptcy. After TEMCO acquired Globe's
assets, the two stayed on doing whatever was necessary for
the transition. Cotton took over the task of ferrying the
stored airplanes to TEMCO. Roy stayed at the Globe plant
to prepare the remaining aircraft for delivery to TEMCO.
Cotton ferried one plane a day in the beginning until TEMCO's
pilots joined in the process; then they ferried four and
five a day. Then came the final move. Several weeks before
the closing of the plant at Saginaw, TEMCO people were at
the factory with 18-wheel trucks. They tagged tools, fixtures
and parts for the smooth transition to the TEMCO plant at
remembers those days vividly, "Roy and I were sad to see
the Globe plant close; however, we were happy to know someone
like Bob McCulloch was enthusiastic about the future of
the Swift airplane".
TEMCO built the Buckaroo, based on the Swift design, Cotton
got the assignment to take ten of them to Jiddah, Saudi
Arabia. In May of 1953, each was packed in a large crate,
and loaded on board a freighter bound for Saudi. Cotton
recalls this trip, "I flew over there to meet the freighter
and to supervise the unloading from the ship. After the
planes were assembled, I check out the pilots and mechanics.
This operation took six months. Every day the temperature
was 120 degrees, Fahrenheit, and no rain."
quite an emotional distance between the Globe plant were
the original Swifts were manufactured to where they are
today; about one-half of them still exist. Most of these
Swifts are faster now, and infinitely more valuable. They
are, perhaps, more revered than any other type aircraft.
The owners admire the beauty of their airplanes, and they
appreciate the history of their birth.
says, "There's not another aircraft in the world quite like
a Swift; it was built before its time. It's unbelievable
that the 85hp Swift as I knew it, could become what it is
today with up to 210 hp. I ferried them all over the U.S.
and thought they were great. Then when they produced a series
of Swifts with 125hp, I thought I was in heaven." The clean
lines, the lean styling, gives this little sport aircraft
a look that is unmatched everywhere it is shown.
stories are told about the closing of the Globe Swift plant,
but still, there is no happy ending.
Conder, who officiated at the birth of this coveted airplane,
and who also was there at the death of the plant, says,
'There was no dramatic end when Globe closed the doors.
We all just simply walked away."
Moses is a freelance writer, with a special emphasis on
aviation and aviation history. Her articles appear in Vintage
Airplane, Woman Pilot magazine, Flyer, Flight Journal, Aviation
Buyers Directory, and the Good Old Days magazine. She is
currently newsletter editor of the texas Pilot ASsociation,
and Secretary/Treasurer of the Texas Chapter, Antique Airplane
Association. She is historian of the newly formed Dallas/Ft.
Worth chapter of women in Aviation International Association,
long time friend and supporter of the Swift Association
and former editor of the Red River Swift Wing newsletter.
Phyllis continues to make substantial contributions to the
RRSW newsletter with articles such as this.
To Swift History Index