Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 20, 2014

An Airplane For The Jeep Trail

Here’s a Maule that can handle asphalt, dirt, tundra, snow or even water runways with equal dexterity

The wing stalls with little aerodynamic warning, but that doesn't matter much as the stall is so gentle, you could fly the airplane practically all the way to the ground with it nibbling on the edge, then give a quick shot of power to cushion the touchdown and stop in a few hundred feet.

Those huge tires make the job even easier, as they forgive a multitude of sins. Yes, the Maule is a conventional-gear airplane, so it does demand more attention than a nosedragger in crosswinds, but the 31-inch tires allow you to ease the airplane to the ground, plant it on the mains and lower the tailwheel to the earth.

There's a pair of downsides to the big tires. The first is they weigh about 50 pounds apiece. If payload is a concern, you'll be sacrificing an extra 100 pounds for the privilege of bouncing right across anything smaller than a Bull Moose. In the case of the Ishams' aircraft, Cade says his M6 offers a useful load of about 875 pounds. Flying with 40 gallons of fuel in the 80-gallon tanks still provides him with a payload of 635 pounds and lets him cruise for an easy two-and-a-half hours plus reserve.

The second disadvantage of the humongous tires is the drag penalty. The Maule wing utilizes manual flaps that may be positioned at your choice of -7, 0, 24, 40 and 48 degrees.

You may have noticed the -7 degree flap setting. Maule discovered long ago that the airplane actually cruises three to five knots faster with the flaps slightly above trail. Position them at the -7 degree reflex position (that's 7 degrees above the streamlined 0 flap position), and the Ishams' Maule cruises at about 115 knots, 10 to 15 knots below normal book. No matter. Cade is convinced the safety margin landing on rough terrain makes it worth the loss.

Cade notes, "We've put about 80 hours on the M6 since last July, much of it flying into other folks' ranches, landing on sand bars in the Red River and operating into locations we couldn't even consider with a nosewheel airplane. The airplane has been easy to operate, reliable and surprisingly flexible."

Labels: Piston Singles


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