Swift Checklists
Custom made Swift checklists courtesy of Sam Swift, CFI

My name is Robert Allen. I've been interested in Swifts since reading the article about Super Swifts in the 11/97 issue of AOPA Pilot. Since I'm new to the type, I'm looking forward to using this forum to learn as much as I can about the Swift. Please be patient if I ask some very basic (or even stupid) questions! Which I guess leads me to my first concern:  I'm a new pilot with about 120 hours in a Skyhawk. I've read in a few articles that the Swift can be difficult to land. I'm concerned that a Swift might be a difficult airplane to get my first tail wheel experience in. Would a more forgiving (though less interesting) airplane be a more reasonable choice for a first tailwheel airplane?  I welcome any opinions or advice you may have to offer. I’m looking forward to benefiting from your experience!  --  Robert Allen, Dallas, TX (

My spouse, Donna, took several hours of initial instruction in a Citabria, soloed and then completed her private in a C-150 (the Citabria had airspeed, altimeter and tach!). After completing her private, she transitioned to the Swift in 10 hours of dual, now has 60 total in Swift. 40K has a 150Lyc, sticks and shorty wingtips, but she gets in and out of Santa Paula (2000’) solo. What does this mean to you? Go for it! I’d recommend getting a few hours in a Citabria or Super Cub if there are any available. All the excitement is between taxi and wheels off the ground. Same for returning to Mother Earth. In the middle is just flying. A “modern” airplane which flies most like a Swift is the Grumman Yankee series.

A second example is a local pilot who purchased a 145 Swift and took all his private training in it. I gave the instructor some dual and then this new instructor and new student did their thing. All the horror stories about the Swift are not deserved. Most come from overloaded and underpowered takeoffs, basic inattention to fundamentals of tailwheel operation, poor maintenance which makes controls sticky and rudders unresponsive, or lack of respect for the aircraft. If you can do a respectable crosswind landing in a nosewheel you can make the transition. The most alarming part of early landings in a Swift is the thrilling sink rate caused by large drag rise with flap and gear extension, coupled with a higher wingloading than your basic Wichita product.

If you have a chance to hit one of the fly-ins, I’m certain you’d have no difficulty getting a ride. I still remember my first in a Swift and it was 27 years ago. Warning! It’s addictive.

Ron Williamson (CA) ( N3740K

From: Bill Harris <>
Subject: Re: Directional control on take off
One thing many of you have forgotten , the tire alignment is very critical ie; you must have 2 - 3 degrees of toe " in " on your tire alignment or you will be all over the place on takeoff. The scissors may need a washer at the elbow to get the correct toe in. If the correction is needed the other way you may swap ends with the scissors or move one have to the other side to see if it will get the job done. The last resourt is to grind off some of the bushing if less not more is needed but I caution not to do this until you have tried all the other options. Draw a chalk line on the floor of the hanger from the tail wheel forword centered of the firewall out 10 ft. Now use a long straight edge such as a 2 by 4 on the tire out 10 ft. now measure between the lines at the gear and at 10 ft and see if there is less distance at 10 ft than at the gear. Do some math and see what 2 degrees should be. I hope I didn't confuse anyone. Let me know what you think about this. -- Bill

Vx AND Vy REVISITED...(4499)
From: Geoff Crawford <>
Subject: Vx and Vy
Regarding Rich Pizzi's question about Vx and Vy for the Swift, the YT-35 Flight Manual shows the following: Best IAS: SL, 82 MPH/900 FPM; 5000', 80 MPH/775 FPM; 10,000', 78 MPH/680 FPM ; 15,000', 75 MPH/435 FPM.  Best Angle airspeed increases with altitude and Best Rate airspeed decreases with altitude until they meet at the airplane's Absolute Ceiling. Service Ceiling is shown at 17,250', which equates to a climb rate of 100 FPM. Extrapolating that plot results in an airspeed at Absolute Ceiling of approximately 73 MPH. Doing a mirror image of that plot results in a Best Angle airspeed of about 64 MPH. The TEMCO-recommended airspeed for obstacle clearance for a short-field takeoff in the Flight Manual is 70 MPH, accelerating to 85 MPH after obstacle clearance.

What does that mean for Swift owners? Other than the tip, it's the same wing design. It was pointed out by Charlie many years ago that for airplanes with fixed pitch props, if the engine is allowed to turn up more RPM at a higher airspeed, the climb performance might be the same or better. With the many different engine/prop combinations out there, the only way to be sure of an individual airplane's performance is by flight test. But at least there is official flight test data that confirms that 80 is a pretty good speed to start with for Vy. As for testing actual Vx, that's going to be a pretty tough thing for most people to quantify on their own, so your recommendation to use one speed a good call, since RPM gets a bit slow in a climb at 70 MPH with a fixed pitch.

The Buckaroo data was taken on an airplane with an Aeromatic prop with altitude control, a 165 Franklin and a gross weight of 1975 lbs. However, the data is there for people to use as they desire. -- Geoff

From Steve Roth via the Yahoo! Globe Temco Swift Club.
"Can one of you veterans give me help on short field take-off techniques for an O-300A powered stock GC-1B (when to lift tail, rotation speed, climb out speed, any flap settings, etc)? Short field includes both hard and soft (firm) surface runways. I know it can vary, especially on soft surface, but what distance should I be looking for to get off the ground and climb out? I need to strive for some goal here." Steve Roth - N2397B <>

Answer to Steve's question by Dave Carpenter <>
Short field techniques depend on how much power you are putting out from the O-300. It is easy to get behind the curve on the swift if it is a warm day, or you are loaded heavy, or if the motor does not turn up the needed RPM. I flew a 145 from 1800' of grass for 15 years... experience in this area. It does help to have a momentary flap switch so that the flaps can be set for about 10 degrees if you are on grass. The main thing is don't pull it off the ground too soon!!! I always used about 65mph and then flew flat with the ground with wheels just about 1 foot or so off of the grass until I saw 75. At that time it would climb. I used several props on the 145 and they do make a world of difference. Basically for good short field performance you should be able to static run up about 2350 RPM. Causes some high RPM in flight but it will get off of the ground.

(Editor's note: Since there are no formal procedures and "numbers" published for the Swift one has to use caution regarding short/soft field procedures. Swifts with fixed pitch props are very sluggish when it comes to takeoff performance compared to Swifts with constant speed props (for obvious reasons). The best thing to do is to go out with a Swift current CFI and practice generic taildragger short/soft field takeoff procedures on a LONG runway. See how much runway you are using. Add in a safety factor for the wife, child, etc... And you'll have your minimum distance to reference in the future. Remember the effects of density altitude and headwind. I operate my fixed pitch 145 hp Swift off a paved 1500 foot runway routinely but it is at sea level and is unobstructed. I don't expect to safely operate out of Don Bartholomew's 2000+ foot airstrip, elevation 4000+ feet. Be conservative, be safe, use common sense, and remember the basics!)

From: Alan Dicker <>
Subject: Swift landing technique
I was talking to a CFI last weekend regarding the Swift. I told him that in my limited experience the Swift is always wheel landed rather than 3 pointed. He seemed a little disbelieving and unfortunately I wasn't able to give a good technical reason why this should be other than to say that I had never seen anyone perform a 3 point landing in the airplane. Can you give me any insights into the aerodynamics so I can talk to him more about it. I did look in the Swift operations blue book but couldn't find any reference to landing technique. Thanks. Alan

I can tell your CFI friend has never tried 3 point landings in a Swift! I had reasoned out all the things that combine to make them difficult - I'll see if I can remember them here.... The stall strips on the leading edge of the centersection are the main culprit. As the nose is raised in a 3 point flare, they spoil too much lift causing an abrupt increase in sink. Many Swifts have the CG too far forward - they land much easier with an aft CG. Most Swift pilots approach at too high a speed for a 3 point landing. 1.3 times the indicated stall speed is the secret. If the airplane stalls at 50 indicated then 65 is the number. Also the flaps create a ground cushion, tending to ballon the airplane up, then as it stalls it is too high up and drops in - hard. Having said all this I used 3 point landings almost exclusively after I had 1000 hours in the Swift. I found it more satisfying and a bit of a challange. These days, I don't fly often enough to stay proficient as I'd like, so I only fly when the winds are favorable and then I trim airplane nose up, fly a stabilized approach and let it land itself out of an 80 mph approach.

I thought of another factor in 3 point landings in the Swift. That is the ratio of yoke displacement to elevator movement. In other words, not much movement of the yoke produces a lot of elevator reaction. The Swifts that have stick controls installed have a different ratio - it takes more aft pull to get the same up elevator - so it's somewhat easier to modulate the flair. In 40 years of Swift flying I can only remembering hitting the tailwheel on the runway before the mains once! I was returning from the Swift fly-in on 5-30-83. I got held up by headwinds and found it necessary to deviate to Winona, MN for fuel. A thunderstorm lay directly ahead. The approach was over the Mississippi River. On short final, but over the runway thank goodness, I ran into a wind shear. From about 30 feet up I sensed the airplane was plummeting. I applied full power and pulled back on the yoke to the stop. Unbelievably, it greased on tailwheel first with full power! Getting the power off, the roll out couldn't have been over 2 or 300 feet! (Not a recommended procedure, and I probably couldn't do it again for a million bucks!) -- Jim

Subj: Landing Gear Speed
From: Bob Runge ,>
Hi Jim:
Swifts are placarded "Do not lower landing gear above 100MPH."  Does that also mean you can't fly above 100 MPH with the gear out? Best regards....... Bob Runge

No, I was told once that in certification, one gear comes out first and causes a yaw, the CAA (FAA) had (has?) a requirement that the aircraft only yaws so many degrees when one gear is down and one up. The Swift, at speeds over 100 mph exceeds those limits. Once the gear is extended, I don't see any requirement to limit the airspeed. Many people have seen Mark Holliday do his gear down loops in the GC-1A Swift. I have never asked Mark what he uses for a entry speed, but I have tried loops in my own GC-1A and it seems to me 140 mph ias was required. -- Jim

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

President Stan sez:
By Stand Price <>
Howdy Swifters,
Subject for today is "Wind". I am still looking for anything official as to the max demonstrated cross wind for a Swift and have not yet located "the number". Let me know if you have ever seen it. One thing is for sure. A Swift makes a pretty good weather vane. Lots of left crosswind combined with raising the tail too early and too fast without a lot of right rudder and maybe a little brake can lend itself to your viewing whatever is on the left side of your runway. Each Swift probably has its own characteristics as to x-wind handling depending on engine hp, engine offset, propeller type, amount of rudder available (full rudder deflection with full rudder pedal travel) and tail wheel type/condition.

Combine all this with a lot of different techniques and all sorts of things can happen. Personally I turn my awareness level way up with any x-wind from the left exceeding ten knots, and consider 15 knows a good point to think twice about "Do I really need to fly?". The right x-wind actually helps counter some of the gyroscopics/P-factor/torque on takeoff but will show itself on landing as you lower the tail after that roll on wheel landing, necessitating a little left rudder.

Tailwinds are great for cruise but make for long take-off rolls. Headwinds are great for short take-offs but make for long cross-countries. Wind is therefore your best friend or worst enemy.

Proper aileron technique, command of the rudder, a slow application of power, and not being in a big hurry to raise the tail are all in order for that x-wind takeoff. Being ready for a little tap of brake might also be in your thoughts. Your Swift probably has its own max x-wind, based on its personality, so learn its limitations.

(If you would like to join the Red River Swift Wing and receive the RRSW Newsletter, email RRSW newsletter editor Alan Dicker <>. Visit the RRSW homepage at:

Subject: Re: Looking for a Swift
From: Ed A. Lloyd <>
As far as crosswinds in the Swift, there is nothing written. In fact, there isn't a pilots handbook on the Swift like there are nowadays on Pipers and Cessnas etc. Soooooo, we have learned through the "College of Hard Knocks" or said another way, through others mistakes and experiences. A crosswind from the right is not all that bad. Helps offset the torque. A crosswind from the left is something to give some serious thought. I personally don't mess around in much over 15 Kts. in either direction. The tailwheel technique on takeoff and landing as regards when to raise the tail or on landing, when to put it down must enter into the equation. The longer you leave the tail down on takeoff roll, the more speed you have thus the more effective the rudder when you do lift the tail. What all this leads up to is the fact that the Swift rudder is not all that big so in the right set of circumstances you can run out of rudder and the only thing left is brake. If you're going to buy a Swift and don't have taildragger time, I would highly suggest you get about 10 hours in a cub or Citabria in good crosswind conditions so you learn how to use your feet. Otherwise you're in for a rude awakening the first time you're faced with crosswinds in a Swift. They don't make this old classic anymore and we Swifters sure don't like to see them bent up by anyone. Cheers, Ed Lloyd