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Marvelous Maules! page 7

report by neil macdougall • photos by doyle buehler

The only fleet we could find was at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. (The Civil Air Patrol ordered 15 Maules just last year, so its experience is limited.) The university has six Maule MXT-7 Comets, five of them 160 hp and one 180 hp. Dr. Jerry L. Robinson, director of the Department of Aviation, said, “They’re tough planes, easily repaired and with practically no ADs. We’ve had few problems. The edges of the finishing tape on the fabric loosened, and we had to glue them down. The original flap handle mechanism was weak, and students would bend it if they didn’t depress the flap button fully. For a while parts delivery was slow, but now it’s competitive.

“We bought our Maules two years ago and fly each almost 1,000 hours annually. They’re tough as a boot, not a sleek, snazzy Madison Avenue type, but more a back-country plane. We can carry full fuel and three people, while the 180-hp model will carry four.

“They’re more demanding to fly well than a Cessna 152 or 172, which we used to operate. Training aircraft should require work to fly well. The Maule makes you put your feet on the rudders. It will embarrass you if you don’t use your rudder, but it doesn’t have a treacherous bone in its body. [He’s talking about the tricycle version.] We think it produces excellent pilots, who’ll know what to do if a wing drops in a stall or an engine quits on a twin.

“The ailerons have a short span, so you can run out of aileron in crosswind landings. [A 172, by way of contrast, runs out of rudder.] We advise keeping the approach speed up and using no flaps in crosswinds. I’ve used the negative flap position during long ferry flights, but noticed no improvement in speed.

“The pilot’s operating manual is poor. It lacks performance figures, although data were available for a related model from the Australian CAA. We just work around this problem, until the kids move to the Cessna 172RG for complex aircraft training. Then we sock it to them.”

Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has two Maule M-7-235 Rockets. The 5-seat Maules were bought in the early 1990s, as a more economical alternative to the 9-passenger de Havilland Turbo Beavers. Our request to the chief pilot for his views on the strengths and weaknesses of the aircraft was answered by a commun­ications officer, who must have been bitten once by a venomous journalist. Finally, we received a guarded written answer, which said the Maule has a good engine and a respectable speed, typically 138 mph IAS. “Every aircraft has strengths and weaknesses, which depend upon what mission the aircraft was purchased for and what the operator expects. While the aircraft performs to the MNR’s current expectations, this fabric-covered machine suffers somewhat from the demands of a heavy flying schedule in support of resource management operations in the rugged northern bush, on floats and on skis.”

Less wary owners make it clear that Maule has found a niche market, and some mainly happy customers. That’s why a new plane bought today won’t be delivered for about 14 months. |

View the complete Maule differences checklist (if you dare):

The Mystery of Maules
The Mystery of Maules

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