September 2009
Featuring 3783K

The rebirth of N3783K
The dreams and dedication of Nate Andrews
Brings this Swift back flying

My involvement with Swifts started after selling my share in a Cessna 170 that I had been in partnership for 27 years. It had got to the point where I was working on it more than I was flying it. It was time to have a plane of my own. I had a short list of planes I was interested in, the Swift being one. of them. I had never flown in a Swift, but I really admired them and what the heck, it is a tail dragger right? I settled on a project Swift that I found on Denis Arbeau's GTS web site. N3783K S/N 1474 was owned by Tracy Rhodes and Marsha Pike of Reno Nevada. The plane had been through many hands as a project since 1978 when it last flew. N3783K was originally N3781K, then registered as N101U. Tracey and Marsha pursued changing it back to its original number only to find that it was now a Piper Cherokee and the owner unwilling to give up the number. During that time Swift N3783K S/N 1476 was destroyed and the number made available so they were able to register it using an original Swift number. I decided on a project plane for two reasons, one was cost up front and in my experience low cost flying planes generally turn into projects and this one was already well taken apart. This particular plane was within relatively easy driving distance for transport (I live south of Seattle). My father volunteered to go with me and after the 2006 Reno air races we showed up at Reno/Stead airport to pick up the Swift. There was no problem fitting everything on my flatbed trailer and in the back of my pickup truck. The trip home was uneventful, my father and I sharing the driving duty. This was to be my last adventure with my father as he passed away the following April.

After really getting into the plane I discovered that there were many poorly made repairs presumably following landing mishaps that were not documented and damage that was not repaired or most likely ignored. This necessitated replacing some of the landing gear bulkheads and associated parts. The lack of documentation of the previous repairs was some what do to the fact that the original fuselage was deemed damaged beyond repair after a mishap in the mid 50's and the fuselage from S/N 65 was used to replace it, this was documented on a 337 form. There was quite a bit of cosmetic damage to the fuselage skins and I decided that it was best to replace them. I also re-skinned the horizontal and vertical stabilizers and flaps.

Early in the project I decided to forgo rebuilding the Continental O-300 that came with it and install a 200 hp IO-360 Lycoming. I had installed a 180 hp Lycoming on the Cessna 170 and knew that I would be wishing for a larger engine if I stayed with the O-300. Part way though the restoration I met up with Don Bartholomew during a Swift gathering at Diamond Point. He gave me my first flight in a Swift. The flight was everything I had hoped for and put my mind at ease concerning whether I had got myself into a plane I would not enjoy. Don and many others have been a great source of advice and parts as well. The repairs, STC's, and field approvals accomplished during the restoration generated 21 337 forms.

Two years and a month after starting the restoration the plane was airworthy. Bill Shepherd made the first flight, all went well and he allowed me to go on the second flight. A couple of weeks later Bill checked me out in my Swift. The plane was painted the following spring.

"It has been very rewarding to bring a classic back to life"