Flying the Swift...


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I'd like to expand a bit on Ed Lloyd's good advice earlier in this update with my "two-cents-worth" regarding aerobatics in the Swift. Two of the things I like to do most in my Swift are aerobatics and formation flying. Both are not only fun, but challenging and very satifying. It's also a nice break from my Monday thru Friday airline pilot training chores in Bonanzas and King Airs. Aerobatics and/or formation flying is NOT for everyone and it is certainly not a necessary requirement for enjoying your Swift. No matter what type of flying we engage in, we all must identify and respect our own personal limitations and the limitations of what we ask of our airplanes. Follow that advice and your flying experiences will be as safe as they can reasonably be. With that said, on with some discussion of aerobatics...

Swifts are not factory fresh anymore, no doubt about that. But with respect to their age, many pleasureable and challenging light aerobatic maneuvers are still within the Swifts everyday capabilities even in their "middle age". Do I do aerobatics on every flight? No... Occasionally in safe and managable conditions? Yes... It is essential that you remember the Swift is a 50+ year old airplane and anything you do that is gonna routinely require anything even remotely approaching 4G should not be done unless you take some extra time and effort to insure that your Swift is structurally sound beyond ANY doubt. I do "military style" aerobatics which involve no negative G and if done correctly, never more than 4G. Basic loops, aileron rolls, point rolls, cuban eights, wingovers, almost-hammerheads (HA!), split S, are some examples. No high G or accelerated stall maneuvers like snap rolls should be done.

Now if you really have a need to go out and "yank & bank" then one good place for advice on how to set-up and maintain a Swift for repeated semi-serious to serious aerobatics might be to talk with any of the three members of the Swift Magic Aerobatic Team. Their Swifts are just as old as anyone else's but is it a sure bet that they have gone that extra mile to insure that their airplanes can stand up to the requirements of their use in a formation aerobatic routine. Still, anyone that has seen their routine would be quick to tell you just how smooth it is. They clearly do not abuse their airplanes. Good aerobatics is NOT necessarily "yank & bank" aerobatics... Let's leave that to the Pitts types and other aircraft designed for such punishment.

Another fun thing to do with a Swift is formation flying. The Swift's light control response makes it a delight to fly in formation. In some respects it is even more demanding of concentration and professionalism than aerobatics. The rewards of a well executed formation flight are great but so are the responsbilities. It is definitely fun and it is definitely NOT a casual act.

As many of you have read in the most recent International Swift Association Newsletter, the Swift Association Board of Directors has engaged the help of some very expert Swift formation pilots and have recently completed the Swift Formation Flying Manual. (In addition to the Association's literary efforts, there have been many other books written on the subject of formation flying and the EAA has produced a video about it.) The purpose of this very commendable effort is to help Swifters enjoy this part of Swift ownership in a safe and professional manner. It is important to stress, if you are new to formation flying, that it is not something that a person should just go out and learn on their own. Any "booklearnin" you can do on the subject is time well spent but if you have the urge to fly formation and have never done it before, it is essential to also get instruction from a formation qualified pilot. If you have had some experience with formation flight but are not necessarily current, a "BFR" might be in order. (Biennial Formation Review) An added benefit that will be offered by the Association is a formation "school" that would qualify you in the eyes of the FAA to fly formation in waviered (airshow) airspace in case you want to show off for more than just a few close friends.

Aerobatics and formation. They may or may not be your idea of how to spend quality time with your Swift. Whether you are basically a straight and level type, want to fly alongside your fellow Swifters, or like to turn the horizon inside-out once in awhile... To each his own. But in any case, make sure that both you AND your Swift are qualified to do it safely or just don't do it. THAT is the most improtant thing. -- Denis Arbeau


From: Randy Sohn <>
Subject: Re: April #1 GTS Internet Update
> ...on how Swifts get wrecked during checkouts:
> "They installed right hand brakes on it as that was a contributing factor
> in the ground loop (the guy with the brakes couldn't fly and the guy who could
> fly had no brakes!)." John Foster, Swift s/n 3660
Just for the record here, when I do a checkout in the Swift, I (ey!) get into the left seat (with the brakes) and he gets into the right and we go fly. We continue like this until I KNOW he can fly it, THEN we swap seats! started this way in 1955 and ain't gonna even think of changing it. Best, Randy Sohn

(Editor's two cents... I've done many Swift checkouts. Successfully. Only one was done with me sitting in the right seat and that was only because the owner had right side brakes installed before we started the checkout. Terry McCartney owns that Swift now and a safe checkout of the previous owner insured that Terry and his Swift would finally meet someday...)

BY THE NUMBERS... (050200)

Subj: Need numbers
From: Nathan Sturman <>
Monty, I had a bit of time in Swifts twenty-two years ago but it was all a checkout and some itinerant VFR flying and a checkout (blind leading the blind). Don't even remember which aircraft it was clearly and can't find that logbook. I want to fit a Swift into some short fiction and need some performance speeds specs etc. What kind of mp setting for, say, 90 knots on the glideslope. What speed would you prefer when the controller isn't fussy? And other benchmark power settings and important operating data to lend a bit of authenticity. EG Gear/Flaps extended speed etc. Are most fuel injected? (Mention carb heat or not.?) And landing gear; type of indicator? I presume you would normally terminate an ILS to a wet runway with a wheel landing and is that the preferred way to land them anyway.?? Operation off grass/sod fields? reasonable runway length? TIA, Nate Sturman Gunma, Japan

I am just a VFR pilot and an old guy, so I still use mph, not knots when talking speeds in the Swift. I usually fly downwind at 100 mph, (gear down) base at 90 mph, (flaps down) and 80 mph on final. I think about 16 inches with full up trim gives me a nice stabilized approach into a wind. If no wind, I usually fly close in enough to make a power off final. I never flew an official "glide slope" approach in a Swift. With any small Continental engine, you want full carb heat below 20" mp. The 210 Continental is fuel injected and does not require carb heat. Originally, the Swifts had just a single green light for the gear. Most have had visual indicators installed. (a rod on the gear door) Many have been rewired for two lights. A 2000 foot runway is a short field for a Swift with a fixed pitch prop and less than 145 hp. I operate off a sod runway regularly and have no problem with the regular 6:00x6 tires. Some Swifts have the little 15:6:00x6. Making a normal wheel landing, I have no problem making the first turnoff, 1000 feet down the runway. -- Jim