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Thread: Acro in a Swift

  1. #1
    flyhound's Avatar
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    Acro in a Swift

    Help: I am shopping for a plane. I can only afford 1 plane and I want it to do many things. I used to own a piece of a Pitts S2A and competed in sportsman and intermediate IAC aerobatics. I'm not interested in competition anymore, but I do want to do gentlemanly acro from time to time. I also want a cross country machine that my wife will enjoy flying in for trips to the beach or to see family. She likes to be engaged in the flight by setting radios and working the GPS, so tandem seating isn't an option. I see videos on the web about aerobatic teams using the Globe Swift, but I haven't found any information about whether those old planes are actually approved for acro. Are they? Were the original design load limits within the standard acro g-loading envelope? If not, can anyone suggest other 2 seat side by side acro capable planes?

    flyhound

  2. #2

    It depends . . .

    If my ancient memory isn't faulty, the legality of aerobatics in an aircraft such as the Swift is dependent on the original date of manufacture. If it was manufactured (and a type certificate issued) prior to June, 1946, it falls under the old CAA regulations and aerobatics may be legally performed. If after that date, then it falls under the newer classifications of Standard, Utility or Aerobatic and the limitations of those classifications apply.

    As to whether the airframe is capable of such maneuvers, that is another story and one which I cannot answer.

    I might suggest that a CAP-10 would meet your requirements of a side-by-side aerobatic cross-country aircraft.

    Rich Shankland
    Emeraude CP-323A
    Gig Harbor, WA
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  3. #3

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    I can tell you from experience that a Swift will do nice acro, at least a roll.
    About 30 years ago I was a new pilot and looking for my first airplane. I wanted something fun, more than a 172 or such, but only could spend about $25,000.
    A Swift is really pretty and looked cool. I found a couple in Trade APlane. I went to Hooks airport in N Houston to see my first one, and found the ugly side of human nature. The plane looked ok, but the owner had neglected to tell me it was not legally airworthy, was out of annual. It supposedly had just had an annual and the A & P would sign it off soon when he got back from a trip. I never saw it fly and of course did not give any money to the owner.
    I then went to look at one in Phoenix. It looked pretty good, and ran, but really had almost no brakes. As we taxied out for the demo flight, the owner said you really did not need brakes in a Swift anyway. It was spirited and cool to fly. As we cruise along, with me flying, he asked if I had ever done an aileron roll. When I said "No, I hadn't" (really didn't know how to do one) the owner told me to put the control all the way over to the side and hold it. I did and right away we rolled over and back upright. He said, as for me ever having done a roll,"Well, you have now".
    Anyway I decided that a decent Swift, complete with brakes and airworthy was outside of my budget, and I bought a Mooney M20C, nice little plane.
    If you get a Swift,there are some very nice ones around, don't get one of the neglected ones.

    There was an acro Team for a number of years that I think flew Swifts, maybe Team America?, don't know much more about them as it has been perhaps 15 years.
    Last edited by Bill Greenwood; 10-04-2011 at 03:51 PM.

  4. #4
    EAA Staff / Moderator Hal Bryan's Avatar
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    There was a team called Swift Magic - I was aware of them but never saw them perform:

    swift_2.jpg

    If you Google them, you'll find lots of pages from this site that don't appear to be linked directly:

    http://www.neurobellum.com/magicteam.htm

    Hal Bryan
    EAA #638979
    Online Community Manager
    EAA—The Spirit of Aviation

  5. #5
    What's wrong with a RV6or7? Will do any aerobatics a Swift can do, no retractable gear, 200mph cruise, 51mph stall speed and a docile airplane. A lot have full IFR glass panels with autopilot for cross countries.

  6. #6

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    Hal, you are right about Swift Magic team. I recall Team America in SF 260s, but could not remember the Swift team name. I have seen the Swift team fly several times, as at Sun N Fun, seems like a good act, no hammerheads or such.

  7. #7
    Chad Jensen's Avatar
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    Big question...what is your budget? RV-6/7's are fantastic for this but run the gamut from $50-120k , the CAP-10 is sweet, flew one back in 2003, but they are RARE airplanes, and typically run $50-75k, if you can find one.

    Swifts are relative bargains for what they do and how they look...can't comment on the aerobatic capability though even though some have done it.
    Chad Jensen
    EAA #755575

  8. #8

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    Suggest that you contact the Swift Museum Foundation in Athens TN for info about the Swift. As a 30 year Swift owner, I can suggest that the Swift is an antique airplane, all of the airframes were actually built in 1946, and to be successful with the airplane, you need to be a hands-on antique airplane personality. The systems and flight characteristics are 1940's and are enough different from what you find in the Cessna/Piper/Mooney that it is easy to get into expensive trouble.

    I can say from personal experience that 1000 hours of Swift time is decent preparation for transitioning into a Pitts S-2A. And I will also suggest that T-6 time is good prep for flying the Swift. Don't be fooled by the difference in size and weight.

    History - The Swift Magic Team was Lowell Sterchi, Dewayne "Porch Dog" Upton, and Mike Kennedy. I think that Mike Kennedy still runs the Swift Association Formation Program that is affiliated with FAST and the other FAA recognized formation competency programs. Lowell is retired and Dewayne passed away a few years ago.

    Google is your friend. Best of luck.

    Wes
    N78PS
    N78041

  9. #9

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    Wes, could you elaborate a little more on what you wrote? How many Swifts were built and it is hard to believe that all of them were built in one year.
    I have had only one Swift flight, and as a novice pilot, but it sure didn't strike me as any similarity to a T-6, of which I am fairly famiilar.
    T-6 is so much bigger,both taller and longer wings, heavier, has 2 or 3 times the power, and large effective flaps. T-6 also has a bit of a swept wing.
    What is the stall speed, Vs and Vso of Swift and what approach speed do you use, by that I mean short final just at the end of the runway prior to flare?
    Are some of them stick or is there a conversion to stick control?
    They sure are nice looking.
    Which engine, if any, is considered the best in the long run?

  10. #10

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    Bill,

    The corporate history of Globe Aircraft can't be adequately described in the time I have to post here. To summarize, essentially all of the Swift airframes were manufactured in 1946 and then sold off over the next few years by Globe and the successor companies. So the official date of manufacture on an airframe data plate may say 1948, but the rivets were likely bucked in 1946. The whole history is available through the Swift Museum Foundation. I will note that they are the only source of parts on the planet, they own the type certificate, and if you are not a member they will not sell you parts.

    My comment about flying like a T-6 covers the 125hp airplanes. The weight vs horsepower gives them similar acceleration on take-off to a T-6, the systems are as different from "modern" airplanes as a T-6's are, and the slow flight and stall characteristics, especially with the flaps and gear down, require more attention than FAR Part 23 airplanes. *Many* Swifts have been broken on landing by pilots who did not understand this. This is a chronic complaint in the Swift newsletter. As stated in my original post, do not let the looks of the airplane lead you to think it is easy to fly or maintain.

    Engines - The most common conversion is to the Continental O-300. My personal airplane flies behind a 200hp Lyco.

    Sticks are expensive but there are currently maybe 3 different stick conversions. The wheel works fine. Again, if you are used to how the wheel works on a Cessna, you will be very surprised. The control feel for the ailerons is closer to a Pitts than a Piper.

    Speeds are in the owners manual, available through the Swift Museum Foundation. I will note that my airplane idles at 130mph and the gear speed is 90mph. T-6/P-51 style 360 overhead approaches help burn off the excess speed so that you can put the gear down. On the other hand, when my airplane only had 125hp, take-off was an excercise in patience. Accelerate to 70 or so, lift off and hit the gear switch, accelerate some more close to the runway, and fly away when the speed got to 100. The gear up speed is only 80 and it takes 10 secs for the gear to come up.

    And don't attempt to spin a Swift. Recovery is not guaranteed. The airplane is placarded against them. And any acro must be done with the understanding that you are stressing a 60 year old aluminum airframe. It is not a Pitts. My typical Pitts hop sees +6G and -3G. I would not consider doing that in a Swift.

    All of the info and expertise is available through the Swift Museum Foundation. Did I mention that membership is mandatory?

    If you are looking for an all purpose airplane that you can load the kids into on some days and on other days you can do a roll or two, I would suggest something more like a Zlin or maybe one of those Navion-looking Focke Wulf's. You will get a more modern airframe and more parts availability. But please make sure you get some type training before you attempt acro, expecially spins. The Zlin in particular has a specific spin recovery procedure that must be followed.

    Regards,

    Wes

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