is certainly a sexy looking aircraft whether in flight or
sitting pretty on the ramp. The fact that the aircraft flies
like it looks invokes a strong desire of ownership on the
part of a sport pilot. But like the
Richard Bach story on the Swift this aircraft is so unlike
the modern general aircraft today that most uninitiated pilots
are not prepared for it. However if the prospective Swift
pilot has the right attitude toward flight training this can
be overcome, skills learned or sharpened, and challenges conquered.
I recall my
own initiation with Swift ownership. I made many of the classic
mistakes that can now be easily avoided. Although I was a
member of the Swift association at the time, I was new and
had not had the benefit of a good exchange of information
that is now available on this and other web sites. Furthermore,
I had never purchased an aircraft before and the Swift I ultimately
bought was logistically hard to evaluate and a pre-purchase
inspection was not accomplished. ( This cost me later ). Furthermore
my insurance demanded 10 hours of dual instruction with a
CFI that had Swift time. "Hey, where am I going to find
someone like that". Well the first thing I did right
was to hire a really sharp taildragger CFI. Robin Reid, son
of famed aviator Amelia Reid had some time in Swifts and thousands
of hours teaching along with his mother in all kinds of taildraggers.
I had to work around his schedule and live in a motel away
from home in order to go straight through the course. I checked
my airline pilot ego at the door and got to work. I realized
that flying taildraggers (which was new to me) and mastering
the Swift can be a humbling experience. But eventually, the
light does come on and confidence is gained. When Robin felt
I was safe he cut me loose and I realized I had a license
to learn and needed to keep track not only of the aircraft's
limitations but my own as well.
Now 14 years
and 850 Swift hours later I have found prospective buyers
of Swifts asking me for instruction in there new ( to them
) Swift. So here are some tips for pilots with limited or
no experience in flying and owning Swifts. May I strongly
suggest that when you find the Swift of your dreams (or the
one you can afford) that you budget for a really good pre-purchase
inspection of the aircraft. Take the time and have the patience
to find a mechanic that
knows Swifts and all there inherent weak points. Plan
on paying him/her well and tear down the airplane like an
annual inspection. If you find surprises you can renegotiate
with the owner or walk away (sometimes the cheapest option).
If the aircraft is acceptable you have a good idea of what
you've got and can opt to complete the annual.
It is typical for the new Swift owner to not only need a Swift
CFI but to also need the aircraft ferried to where instruction
can commence. It is important to understand that if you hire
someone to travel to the aircraft it had better be in airworthy
condition. It is important to realize that the ferry pilot
or CFI that agrees to work with you may not have ever seen
the aircraft before and may not know what he/she is getting
into. Plan to provide copies of recent logbook entries, phone
numbers of the previous owner, and any information that the
pilot may need to assure him/her that the aircraft is ready
and legal for flight.
prerequisites before Swift instruction begins. A new Swift
student should have complex ( read retractable) time, current
taildragger experience ( including proficiency with 3 point
and wheel landings ), and a thorough understanding of good
crosswind technique. Certainly, students without some of these
prerequisites can succeed but it will take longer. I find
that 10 hours of instruction is probably a minimum for someone
new to a Swift.
Find a qualified
Swift CFI. More Swifts
have been damaged or lost because a new owner hired a CFI
that had no Swift time and little taildragger experience as
well. They were both passengers on the first flight. Unfortunately
Swift CFI's don't grow on trees and almost never make a living
as a CFI. They usually have other occupations and cannot be
found readily at the local FBO. You may have to travel to
find one. Plan to pay more than the going rate and be ready
to work around their schedule. Weather, mechanical breakdowns,
and schedule conflicts all conspire to make the process challenging.
The payoff for the patient student is a safe and confident
pilot who has greatly increased his/her pilot skills.
Northwest of Chicago near Rockford IL.
Ph# 847 707-3275