I Went to a CAFE and didn't get Breakfast

Bruce Seguine

You may think that my wife Nancy and I fly, (we're both pilots so we both fly) a Swift.  An old aluminum bird that has achieved a bit of a cult status today, but you would be wrong.  We fly a homebuilt, a Swift2.  A Swift 2 is a 1948 Swift with enough airframe and power plant modifications that the FAA saw fit to licensed it in the experimental category.  We think it is a good look'n airplane even sitting on the ground

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The many modifications have made for an airplane that has some very good handling characteristics.  The Swift has an undeserved reputation as an airplane that is tricky to land, and one of the modifications on the Swift2 is a device that sits above the wing root at the leading edge.  The CAFE Foundation was interested in the effect this device has on the slow flight characteristics and invited the Swift2 up to Sonoma for a flying evaluation.

Dr. Bryan Seeley, president of the CAFE Foundation and friend of Chapter 393, was good enough to help Nancy and I get set up for the tests. This included pointers on how to do the fiberglass work necessary to accommodate the special equipment the CAFE Foundation has developed over the years.  The  tubes that their probes fit into are rather interesting. With the addition of some advise from our Technical Counselor Rick Lambert, I think that we built as good looking a set of wing cuffs as any that they had hanging on their hanger wall. (they save each cuff for future use and as a trophy). It took about half a day to get the cuffs and the electronics installed and the Swift2 ready to fly the test set. They also taped red yarn tufts all over the airplane so they could see where the air was going along the skin. 

The electronics package that was attached to the Swift2 was quite involved.  It consisted of a video camera that was timed to the computer and other electronic gear. The combination made it possible to have a log on paper that you could follow along with the Veda to see the exact numbers on the instrument panel against calibrated instruments.

The Flight Evaluation

This flight test was conducted using equipment and techniques as described in the May 1994 issue of Sport Aviation Magazine.

We made six assents at full throttle to 6000 ft. to check for climb rate, then leveled off for top speed runs. Next, we throttled back to 2300 rpm and did a stall series. The test pilot, C. J. Stephens, was completely unbelievable in his ability to fly the Swift2. He could maintain 100 m.p.h. on the climb test no matter what I did with the mixture, flaps or anything else that I worked with to keep the bird doing it's best! On the stall sequence he could maintain 6000 ft. with only a couple of feet variation clear thru the stall. For an airplane that was strange to him and is light on the stick I found this very remarkable. 

The slow flight series was a thing to behold.  We have noted level on this picture. Not only were we flying around at this unbelievable attitude but we were in tight formation with a camera ship. That's a large workload for a pilot.

You can also see by the red yarn tufts how the air stays attached as it goes over the canapé on the Swift2.  If you look closely you can see the tufts on the very wing tip just lifting and showing that the very tip of the wing is just starting to stall.

The test results were a bit less than I had hoped for. I think that most of my own test runs have been made solo so the extra weight of me going along probably accounted for the results.  But, the slow flight characteristics that the Swift is famous for, and responsible for it's undeserved reputation, were positively affected by the device I had installed on the Swift2.  The entire evaluation may end up as an article in Sport Aviation Magazine some time in the future or it may not.

This entire experience was really an eye opener as to the time and precession of the crew and equipment. The CAFE Foundation folks  really do a good job and since every thing is donated they can use all the help that they can get. I hope that some of you folks get this same opportunity.