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Marvelous Maules! page 6

report by neil macdougall • photos by doyle buehler

The plane was bought without a pre-purchase inspection. Afterward, the elevators were found to be rigged improperly, an AD on the control cables had not been done and the flaps were also out of rig, a job which has since proved difficult and will take another two or three hours.

Philip J. Pardo of Onoway, Alberta has an M-6 with a 235-hp Lycoming engine. “The M-6 is similar to the M-5, but with the gross weight increased to 2,500 pounds. Useful load is just less than 1,000 pounds. Increasing the flap area decreased the size of the ailerons. As a result, aileron control is lacking in strong crosswinds. But it’s a splendid performer. With three people and partial fuel, I rarely use more than half of my 1,600-foot grass strip. I flight plan for 120 knots and 9 or 10 U.S. gallons per hour. The negative flaps increase the cruising speed by three to five knots.

“The fuel-injected engine can be a pig to start when it’s hot. You can grind away and the manual’s procedure doesn’t always work.

“The Maule’s weakness is being a tail-dragger. It will bite if you’re not sharp with your feet. It’s short-coupled and has a big keel. Taxiing in 25-knot winds is difficult, especially turning downwind. Crosswinds of over 30 degrees increase my heart rate [because of the small ailerons]. Forget landing in even a 5-knot tail wind. I did once and had interesting control problems. People also complain about tail wheel shimmy. The interconnected rudder and aileron seems to work only at one speed, about 90 knots. You still need to use rudder.

“The factory paint didn’t last. Other unscheduled maintenance was a directional gyro ($150) and a cracked exhaust pipe ($800). When the wheels rubbed on the brake housings, the factory provided shims for $3 each. Support is good.

“The manual is sparse, with no takeoff or performance figures. That’s where guys go wrong. It’s a get-out-there-and-learn-it-yourself plane. A Cessna 180 is a lot more money, but you don’t get a lot more plane. And Maules are not well known, so getting insurance can be a problem. AON Reed Stenhouse covers me.”

Borden Boothby of Dwight, Ontario is another enthusiast, although he’s had enough maintenance problems to be fed up with aviation. The paint came off the wings of his 1989 Maule M-7-235. A well-known paint shop messed up the refinishing, resulting in the loss of a year’s flying and a bill for $9,000. Gap seals between the stabilizer and the elevators had been left out, causing a ground loop and more bills. Then a mechanic assembled a magneto incorrectly, causing severe vibration.

“The Maule doesn’t do anything nasty although there’s a lot of torque on takeoff. You have to be good on the rudder. In a stall it just wallows, doesn’t drop a wing. In cruise, it’s relaxing to fly. On floats at 23 inches of manifold pressure and 2,300 rpm, I get 128 mph. It’s everything I want in a plane.”

Richard Sandor of Kelowna, British Columbia e-mailed me about getting a float rating in a Maule M-7-235 with Aqua 2K floats. Although he really liked the aircraft after having flown only Cessnas and gliders, he thought the rear leather-covered panels, stapled to the wood, looked low quality. The water rudder extension handle frayed quickly because it rubbed against the hole in the floor. This was easily fixed, but the turning radius was wide, perhaps due to small water rudders or the floats. He added that the plane really weathercocks in the wind, but is stable in yaw, on the step or in flight.

Because commercial aircraft fly more hours per year than private ones, fleet owners are the best judges of a plane’s durability. But Maule fleet owners are as rare as citizens’ groups promoting big airports. Perhaps that’s because Maule didn’t market tricycle undercarriages (which nearly all schools prefer) until a couple of years ago.

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