“What the hell is ‘the Swoop’?” I don’t actually get asked that question all the time, but I know it’s been lurking there in the minds of many readers.
I think it’s only fair that I make it very clear exactly what the Swoop is.
Technically, the Swoop is the pitch down movement that we make when we start a landing maneuver. Its main objective is to maintain energy in the form of airspeed so that we can spend that energy in order to maneuver the plane close to the runway for the purpose of establishing a slow sink rate for a wheel landing, for giving us time to flare exactly for a three point landing or to maneuver for a one-wheel touchdown . It’s helpful during training for fundamental maneuvers (see “The High Speed Flair” in “Brian’s Flying Book”) as well as for more advanced stuff like the landing in a turn.
Philosophically, the swoop separates us from the rest of those candy-assed aviators because we blast down to the runway in order to do the stuff that they can’t do because they were trained by other candy-asses at Acme Flying Schools, Inc. They were taught to do everything smoothly and slowly. No quick rolls, no steep turns, no one wheel work, no fun. More importantly, no skill developed.
The Swoop is more than just something we do to conserve energy. It also serves as a symbol of our spirit of Fun and Adventure. When I sign off from Tailwheeler’s Journal articles with “Happy Swooping”, I’m assuming that you understand what separates us from the rest of the aviators:
Most of my students pick up on the meaning of “swooping”. They realize that only by studying this fascinating flying game do they truly understand and get to practice that fun and satisfying maneuver. To them I’m always pleased to proclaim,