May 2011
Featuring 3361K


July 25, 2011

My grandfather and original Globe Swift pilot John Polaczyk passed away peacefully in Detroit, Michigan on July 25th at age 95. He had many wonderful stories and experiences to share with his family and friends while he was with us. Most of his exploits included an airplane, car or motorbike at speed. He loved to fly and did so until his late 60’s. He flew many types of aircraft as he was an instructor, stunt pilot and he even repossessed airplanes for creditors in his spare time.

His favorite plane was Globe Swift N3361K. He had my flawless flights and a few harrowing experiences (wing icing, low fuel, lost, highway landing, etc.) with her but she always returned him safe and sound to earth.

Thanks to the current owner and Swift enthusiast Bob Price, he got to fly that plane one more time in April 2009 at 93. He could still handle it like it was 1947 all over again. That was one of the favorite moments of his life, being reunited with his prized aircraft.

The next time of one of you is way up in the clouds with your wonderful Globe Swift airplane enjoying the day or night, know that my Grandfather John will be close by copiloting, smiling away and enjoying the flight with you.

Mark Hall


John Polaczyk leans on Globe Swift N3361K in 1947.
Polaczyk, regularly flew the plane while
working at a flight school near Detroit in the 40's.
Sixty-two years later, the Michigan resident had another
chance to pilot the plane, thanks to the plane's current
owner Bob Price of Stephens City, Virginia


John Polaczyl and Bob Price
Polaczyl is 93 in this picture


At 93 John Polaczyk thought his flying days were behind him, but thanks to stranger in Stephens City, Virginia the lifelong Michigan pilot recently found himself back where he is happiest: in a Globe Swift, a machine he came to know soon after it debuted in the 1940’s. At the time, he was working at the now- defunct Warren Aero School near Detroit. One of his friends owned a Swift. “It’s the fastest little guy there is,” Polaczyk said. “Has 125 horsepower and can go 125 mph with a landing speed of 70 mph.” Polaczyk admits that the plane has its faults, but he has remained fond of it through the years. “Most guys were afraid to fly the airplane,” he chuckled. “It felt down like a rock when you tried to land.” Polaczyk never imagined he’d see the Swift again. But planes come with a paper trail, including records about previous owners, inspections, and flights. So Mark Hall, Polaczyk grandson, did some research and in Stephens City tracked down Bob Price, who had purchased the Swift in 2002. Hall wrote to Price “My grandfather piloted your plane in the ‘40s on numerous occasions. Enclosed with Hall’s letter was1947 black-and-white photo of Polaczyk leaning on the plane that Price now owns. “If at all possible it would be wonderful if you could send us a picture of the plane as it is today,” Hall wrote. “He would be thrilled to see it again.” Price did even better. He flew the Swift to Michigan and met with Polaczyk and family members at the Monroe Custard Airport just outside Detroit.

The late-April day was windy, and the Swift is a light plane, “but there was no way I was going to cancel this flight,” Price said. He took Polaczyk up in the plane one more time. At 2,000 feet, Price turned over the controls. “It was like being reborn,” Polaczyk said. “I never forgot how to fly that sucker.”He took in the modern GPS and other slight changes to the plane that had been added over more than half a century. “Back in the day we flew by ground and map,” Polaczyk said. Flying out over Lake Erie with Price, the old pilot experienced a rush of those memories.

Polaczyk still recalls the numerous flight lessons he gave in the Swift, the trip into the north country to hunt deer and birds, and the free-willing cross-country jaunts that sound reckless by today’s standards. Once, he said, he and a friend flew straight into a foggy Florida storm and landed blindly in the middle of the road, nearly out of gas. A farmer gave them fuel and directed them to the airport, where they landed the Swift on the taxiway instead of the runway. In the years between the time Polaczyk last piloted the plane and the time Price bought it, many others developed a soft spot for the little Swift – built in Texas in 1946. Log books and FAA records tell some of their stores. After Polaczyk’s aero school closed in 1951, the plane was sold to Wilbur Vance, who took the plane with him to Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts, and wherever else the Air Force stationed him. In 1974 Vance sold the plane to Herbert Findeisen in New Hampshire who flew the plane until 1991, when he locked it away. Twelve years went by before Price saved the plane permanent storage, traveling to New Hampshire to buy it. Mechanics and inspectors checked it over, and in April 2003 he flew the plane to Winchester. Price flies the Swift weekly and said “I’ve kept it pretty much the same”.

Polaczyk leans on N3361K
again after 62 years
Polaczyk and Price preflight Swift
for one more time at the controls