View our aviation books
canaero - Canadian aviation history

Marvelous Maules!

report by neil macdougall • photos by doyle buehler – first published spring 2002

Maule M-5-235C

C-GQJE is a 1980 M-5-235C owned by Cliff Zarecki of Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba. Zarecki had previously flown two Cessna 180s, and based on price and performance, “became a convert.” His aircraft was purchased in October 1989 for $69,500 IFR-equipped, including a set of skis. Edo 2440B floats are fitted in summer. Total airframe time is 1,600 hours.

Maule STOL aircraft are underrated. Aircraft dealers will tell you that used Cessnas, Beeches and Pipers sell faster than other makes. They also command the highest prices. Value seekers should look at less popular types, provided spares are readily available. Planes like the Maule M-4 sold for much less than comparable Cessnas when both were new, and still do. Maules seem to depreciate faster than Cessnas, so buyers can expect value, if not bargains. (Do you think all old aircraft appreciate rather than depreciate? Then adjust the original prices for changes in the cost of living.)

Perhaps because only about 140 are in Canada, Maules are little known here. Old timers recall the classic advertisements which show a Maule a few feet above the ground in a scary rocket-like climb, yet barely out of the hangar behind. Today, digital imaging can simulate this stunt as easily as a picture of cats being herded. Back then, one supposes that the fearless 100-pound pilot prayed to the engine god, removed all the seats, radios and instruments, settled for a thimble-full of gas, and started the takeoff run inside the hangar. (Recently, Brent Maule assured me that the 235-hp demonstrator wasn’t stripped, carried a 180-pound pilot and half fuel, and was airborne at the front of the 200-foot-long hangar.) Anyway, the advertisements did much to establish Maule’s reputation as a superior STOL aircraft.

Bedford D. Maule grew up on an Ohio farm, where he used his talents to build a tractor, a motorized ice-cream freezer and an ice saw. By 1932, he’d designed and built a single-seat monoplane powered by a 27-hp Henderson motorcycle engine. He taught himself to fly and eventually formed a company to build the first self-starter for light aircraft, and a steerable, full-swivelling tail wheel, both of which he designed. Maule tail wheels are still being built. Animated, opinionated and versatile like the legendary Bill Lear, he also built TV antennas and fabric testers while dreaming of a four-place utility aircraft that could go anywhere. His Bee Dee M-4 homebuilt was certified by the FAA in 1961, and was then marketed as the 145‑hp M‑4 Jetasen. The original fuselage jig is still being used for today’s models.

When “B.D.” died in 1995, he was said to be the only remaining founder-owner of a plane maker. His wife June is now president, aided by five children, two spouses of children and two grandchildren. In 40 years, they have produced some 2,300 aircraft, outlived Taylorcraft and other pioneers, and survived financial, product liability and regulatory challenges.

All Maule models have a fuselage of alloy steel tubing and welded trusses. The fuselage and tail are covered with synthetic fabric, currently Ceconite. The wing is all aluminum, although the first few Bee Dees had fabric.

Back to story index page | Page [1] of 7 |     ››

The Aviation History Series

Limited edition, collectible aviation books

Support the growth and expansion of this web site by purchasing our first title, Tales from the Lakeview. Order with confidence using the secure, online credit card processing service by PayPal. Anticipate a great reading experience for yourself, beautifully produced, or send a gift anyone will appreciate.

View our aviation books
View our aviation books

Get published!

Make a lasting impression with your research and writing.

Have a great Canadian aviation story to tell? Contact the CanAero publisher, and put more than two decades of aviation publishing experience to work for you.
217 Bulrush Cres., Gloucester, ON K1T 0E6 Canada

Phone: 613-581-6625
E-mail the publisher

To view the Maule photo gallery, click on the photo below:

Once the first image has loaded in the pop-up window, click near the right or left edge to move forward or backward through the photos. The arrow keys on your keyboard also perform the same function. © 2011. All Rights Reserved