Swift ultralight sport aircraft
Have you heard of this plane? It is one Ive been following for some years, Im a big fan. I think it costs around $50K USD. You can add either a petrol or electric engine. Its wing is composite construction – that would likely mostly be carbon fiber. While the cockpit structure is metal tube construction, – Im asuming aluminium with probably chromoly for the undercarriage. It is very stable and graceful judging by what I can see in all the vids Ive seen. If you consider this as a competitor to a Cessna 172 then its not very impressive, but thats not how you should look at it – its a evolution of the hang glider. The benefits of this design over hang gliders? Well hang gliders are often drag-inducing by all the bracing wires and struts protruding from the wing, wheras the Swift has a rigid wing. Yes there are now also rigid wing hang gliders too. Also the Swift has what look to be a kind of aileron or a spoileron and flaps for steering trim and so on. Compare this to hang gliders which are weight shift. So the cockpit can be closer to the wing compared to hang gliders, reducing drag by eliminating the control bar. Further the Swift affords the pilot a great seating orientation. The seat is also reclined almost laying down, upright, compared to a hang glider which has the pilot kind of prone facing down and kind of ensconsed in a sleeping-bag-like cocoon. The Swift is far superior in this way.
So is it a glider or a powered plane? Its both, its firstly a glider, but also goes well under power. The key thing with gliders is lift drag ratio. The top gliders in the World – the ones with the huge thin wings are achieving LD ratios in the order of 45 to 1 if Im not off by a few digits either side of 45. This basically means for every 1mile the glider descends, it travels forward 45 miles. Not bad huh? So if you started gliding at 10,000 feet you would glide for around 90 miles. So The Swift is not the top glider, but its not the worst either, and as far as I can remember as far as hang gliders go it has the best or close to the best LD ratio of all hang gliders. Im guessing around 30 to 1. I thing a Cessna would be around 10 to 1 so you get an idea of the efficiency of gliders. NOW: Add an engine to a glider and you can appreciate the amazing cross country and endurance potential of these kind of aircraft.
because the Swift has a enclosed cockpit, you have the luxury of quite a comfortable cabin for the flight where you can eat your lunch, drink some coffee and look at your ipad.
Another great advantage is the Swift has an undercarriage, compared to hang gliders which have to be foot-launched and foot-landed.
I reckon the best next step would be to add mini-jet engine to the Swift and greater fuel storage and the benefit of this would be tremendous high altitude performance.
Checkout the YT vids below. Also here is the Wikipedia about the Swift