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Marvelous Maules! page 2

report by neil macdougall • photos by doyle buehler

Most manufacturers change model numbers only for new designs. A de Havilland DHC-1 Chipmunk is no more similar to the DHC-2 Beaver than the Piper PA-38 Tomahawk and PA‑44 Seminole are to each other. Therefore, you’d expect the Maule M-4, M-5, M-6, M-7 and M-8 to be different designs. In fact, they’re more like the Cherokee series, all the same basic design, tweaked, polished and improved with time.

The Maule type table on the last page of this report shows how wing span, rudder chord, flap area and aileron area have changed as the makers have tried to improve flying character­istics. As often happens, some changes worked better than others. The increase in flap size reduced the effectiveness of the ailerons. Use the table to identify models with the aileron and rudder authority suitable for your operations.

Most models come with a choice of engines. For example, the M-4, built from 1962 to 1973, was sold as the Jetasen (145-hp Continental O-300 engine), Astro-Rocket (180‑hp Franklin O-335), Rocket (210-hp Continental IO-360) and Strata-Rocket (220‑hp Franklin O-350). The 145-hp models had fixed-pitch propellers, a wing span of 29 feet, 8 inches and round wing tips. The four other variants had constant-speed props and droop wing tips. The Maule M-4 and M-4T (an economy 2-seat version aimed at the trainer market) are the only Maules eligible for Transport Canada’s Owner-Maintenance aircraft category. O-M planes cannot visit the United States. Both M-4s can be operated with automobile fuel if you buy a STC.

In 1974, the M-4’s rounded fin and rudder was replaced in the M-5 by a larger, angular fin and rudder designed to improve directional stability. All later models have this tail design, although the rudder chord varies. The M-5 Lunar Rocket offered five engine choices, among them the only turbocharged power plants offered by Maule, a 210-hp Lycoming TO-360 and a 250-hp Franklin TO-350. Also new were optional 63 U.S.-gallon long-range tanks, which feed into the inboard tanks after fuel there is used.

In 1981, the M-6’s wing had increased span and 4-position flaps. In addition to 24-, 40- and 48-degree settings, a negative position (-7 degrees) is available to increase cruising speed. For years, high-performance sailplanes have had a negative-position flap setting to improve glide ratio at high speeds. Maule may be the only powered aircraft manufacturer to use this device.

The 1984 M-7 featured an extra window and a longer cabin. Three inches higher and five inches longer than other models, the cabin can hold a removable fifth seat. Nine versions, with wings of two different spans, square instead of the previous droop wing tips, and various piston and gas turbine engines, have been offered. Tricycle landing gear models are designated MT-7. A new option was a wide-track spring aluminum conventional gear.

Surprisingly, the versions with the original shorter cabin are named MX-7. Also still in production, these come only with 160- and 180-hp and 32-feet, 11-inch wings. Maule was slow to recognize that some red-blooded hairy chested pilots wanted tricycle landing gear. Tri-gear models (indicated by a T in the model number) were not built until 1990, and not in any quantity until recently. Today, half of new orders are for conventional gear.

The M-8 was built from 1993 to 1995, and is no longer available. It had a spring wide-track conventional gear and a 235-hp Lycoming IO-540.

Today, Maule makes about 60 aircraft per year, fewer units than Honda makes per hour at its Alliston, Ontario car plant. (That’s why planes are so expensive.) Yet, Maule offers an astonishing 19 versions of the M-7, MT-7, MX-7 and MXT-7. In any business but a small family firm, you’d think the back yard would be filled with the bodies of worn-out production schedulers.

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