Already a member? Please login below for an enhanced experience. Not a member? Join today
Menu

Swift Museum fly-out highlights two-place classicsSwift Museum fly-out highlights two-place classics

T–35 Buckaroo military trainer is a highlightT–35 Buckaroo military trainer is a highlight

A polished Temco Globe Swift Serial No. 3 aircraft demands attention from Swift Museum Foundation guests as they walk underneath the two-place retractable-gear taildragger hanging from the ceiling of a hangar stuffed with rare examples of the sleek model.

  • A polished aircraft frames a participant during the 2018 Swift National fly-in. Photo by David Tulis.
  • The third Swift aircraft built provides a dramatic backdrop during the 2018 Swift National fly-in to the Swift Museum Foundation in Athens, Tennessee. Photo by David Tulis.
  • Swift pilot Jerry Kerby participates in a formation flight near Tullahoma Municipal Airport in Tennessee. The Swift Museum Foundation is in Athens, Tennessee, 80 miles east of Tullahoma. Photo by David Tulis.
  • A 125-horsepower Temco Swift GC-1B, the last of 1,521 Swift aircraft manufactured, is on display at the Swift Museum Foundation. Photo by David Tulis.
  • Pilots Paul Barnett and Sam Swift greet each other during a fiftieth anniversary Swift Museum Foundation celebration and Swift National fly-in at McMinn County Airport in Athens, Tennessee, in 2018. Photo by David Tulis.
  • The Johnson Rocket 125 prototype is on display at the Swift Museum Foundation at McMinn County Airport in Athens, Tennessee. The aircraft is said to be designed by R.S. 'Pop' Johnson in 1942 derived in part from a Culver Cadet, with input from Al Mooney. Photo by David Tulis.
  • Sandy Mercandetti presents a formation clinic during the 2018 Swift National fly-in to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Swift Museum Foundation. Photo by David Tulis.
  • Original bricks from the Texas Swift factory are on display. Photo by David Tulis.
  • AOPA President Mark Baker greets Swift aircraft aficionado Paul Mercandetti during the 2018 Swift National fly-in. Photo by David Tulis.
  • A Swift GC-1A, the first all metal model, is on display at the museum. Photo by David Tulis.
  • A modified Swift faces a line of polished models during the 2018 Swift National fly-in to the Swift Museum Foundation in Athens, Tennessee. Photo by David Tulis.
  • Swift aircraft fly in a diamond formation to help celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Swift Museum Foundation located at McMinn County Airpoirt in Athens, Tennessee. Photo by David Tulis.
  • A fiftieth anniversary celebration in 2018 attracted about four dozen original or modified Temco and Globe Swift aircraft to McMinn County Airport in Athens, Tennessee. Photo by David Tulis.
  • Swift aircraft fly in a formation with AOPA President Mark Baker, center, riding right seat in a GC-1B Globe Swift model owned by Paul Mercandetti to help celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Swift Museum Foundation, in 2018. Photo by David Tulis.
  • AOPA President Mark Baker greets Swift aircraft aficionados during the 2018 Swift National fly-in at the Swift Museum Foundation in Athens, Tennessee. Photo by David Tulis.

A lunch fly-out to the museum at McMinn County Airport is planned for Sept. 13 during the AOPA Fly-In at Tullahoma Municipal Airport in Tennessee. The airport museum is located in Athens, among the verdant rolling hills west of the Unicoi Mountains in an area known as Tellico Plains.

Visitors can view serial No. 2, an all-metal GC–1A model powered by a Continental C-90, parked next to a 125-horsepower GC–1B, the last of 1,521 Swifts built. R.S. “Pop” Johnson’s fire-engine-red Johnson Rocket 125 prototype, manufactured in 1942 with a Lycoming 0-320 and derived in part from a Culver Cadet, shares museum space with two rare T–35 Buckaroos. Museum foundation members located the tandem-seat U.S. Air Force trainers in Saudi Arabia in the 1970s and retrieved them for posterity.

Pilots of the classic 70-year-old airframes are supported by the foundation, which owns the type certificate, engineering data, tooling, and an inventory of parts to keep them airborne.

Swift pilots established the facility several years ago, and the latest addition includes a classroom for formation ground schools and other clinics. Groups of Swifts can be spotted performing precision air work at airshows around the United States and overseas, said Jim “Frog” Jones, the foundation’s president and a Swift aircraft owner for more than 40 years.

Documents posted in the Swift Museum explained that Globe Swift aircraft were manufactured prior to 1946 as the 85-hp GC–1A, although some had a slightly more powerful 90-hp version of the same engine. In the following years, some owners have converted their aircraft to a GC–1B derivative by installing a larger engine, although Classic Swifts typically have a 125- or 145-hp Continental powerplant.

The aircraft is beloved among Swift aficionados, who often individualize the model with a variety of go-fast options. Type club member Jerry Kirby, the owner of a modified Swift, noted that replacing the original and modest Continental powerplant with more powerful engines is at the top of the list for some owners. The sky and their pocketbooks are the limits as far as horsepower is concerned.

Many of the speedsters have been upgraded to a Continental 210-hp version, while other owners fancy Lycoming’s 150- to 180-hp engines. Aerodynamic cowl modifications, conversions of control yokes to sticks, and substituting a sliding or gull-wing canopy for the original flip-down version are common mods.

Jones noted that the airplane lives up to its Swift namesake, with a 150-knot cruise speed on 10 gallons per hour that's typical of some of the larger engines frequently installed. “It’s truly a magic carpet,” he said.

Coming to the AOPA Fly-In? Check in with fellow pilots in advance through the AOPA Fly-In Hub.

David Tulis

David Tulis

Associate Editor Web/ePilot
AOPA Associate Editor Web/ePilot David Tulis joined AOPA in 2015 and is a seaplane-rated private pilot who enjoys vintage aircraft, aerobatic flying, and photography.
Topics: AOPA Events, Fly in, Ownership

Related Articles