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Golden Age Pioneers: Arthur Cecil Butler and the Comper CLA 7 Swift

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Published on 26 Jan 2008

The Comper C.L.A.7 Swift was a British 1930s single-seat sporting aircraft produced by Comper Aircraft Company of Hooton Park.

In March 1929 when Flight Lieutenant Nicholas Comper left the Royal Air Force he formed the Comper Aircraft Company to build an aircraft he had designed, the Comper Swift. The Prototype (registered G-AARX) first flew at Brooklands on 17 May 1930. The aircraft was a small but graceful single-seat, braced high-wing monoplane of wooden construction. The prototype was powered by a 40 hp (30 kW) A.B.C Scorpion piston engine. After successful tests seven more aircraft were built in 1930 powered by a 50 hp Salmson A.D.9 radial engine. Trials with Pobjoy P radial engine for use in air racing resulted in all the following aircraft being powered by the Pobjoy R. The last three aircraft (sometimes called the Gipsy Swift) were fitted with de Havilland Gipsy engines - two with 120 hp (89 kW) Gipsy Major III and one with a 130hp (97 kW) Gipsy Major.

BUTLER, CECIL ARTHUR (1902-1980), aviator, was born on 8 June 1902 at Sparkhill, Warwickshire, England, son of Arthur Harry Butler, commercial clerk, and his wife Ann Rebecca, née Seabridge. The family migrated to New South Wales about 1910 and settled at Lithgow. Suffering from dyslexia, Arthur was educated by his mother until he was 9 and subsequently went to Cooerwull Academy, Bowenfels, and Lithgow District Public School. In 1917 he was apprenticed as a tool, jig and gauge maker at the local Small Arms Factory, transferring in 1921 to the Australian Aircraft & Engineering Co. Ltd at Mascot, Sydney. He attended Sydney Technical College at night, obtained his ground engineer's licence in 1923, and worked for the Larkin-Sopwith Air Craft Supply Co. Pty Ltd and Larkin's Australian Aerial Services Ltd as a ground engineer at Hay. Having gained his pilot's licence in 1927, Butler went 'barnstorming'.

Ambitious to design and construct his own aircraft, in 1930 he completed and tested a small, all-metal, high-winged monoplane. Later that year he piloted a tiny Comper Swift from England to Australia in the record time of 9 days, 1¾ hours.

One flyable Comper Swift (registered G-ACTF) built in 1932 is displayed at the Shuttleworth Collection, Old Warden, England.
A second one, registered EC-AAT and painted in the colors used by Fernando R. Loring for his Madrid-Manila raid (March 1933), flyes every first Sunday of the month at Cuatro Vientos airfield, on the outskirts of Madrid, Spain; belonging to the Fundación Infante de Orleans.

General characteristics
Crew: 1
Length: 17 ft 8½ in (5.4 m)
Wingspan: 24 ft 0 in (7.32 m)
Height: 5 ft 3½ in (1.61 m)
Wing area: 90 ft² (8.36 m²)
Empty weight: 540 lb (245 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 985 lb (447 kg)
Powerplant: 1× Pobjoy R radial piston, 75 hp (56 kw)
Performance
Maximum speed: 140 mph (225 km/h)
Range: 380 miles (611 km)
Service ceiling 22,000 ft (6705 m)

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