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

One trick the Ishams haven't tried yet (and probably never will) is a water touchdown. There was an interesting video sequence on YouTube recently showing a bush pilot in Alaska dropping into an abbreviated sand bar with the extra- large bush tires. He touched down in the water in a full stall probably 50 to 100 feet short of the sand with big tires acting as pontoons, water-taxied up to the beach and lowered the tail to earth shortly after crossing onto the bar. Then, he chopped power and stopped in what looked to be 100 feet. As if to emphasize that he could do this every day, he spun the aircraft 180 degrees and took off in the opposite direction, letting the airplane accelerate on the water before lifting off. Don't try this at home, on your vacation, at an air show or anywhere else unless you're REALLY familiar with your airplane.

Another procedure Maules do in the same class as Super Cubs and Helios is the box canyon arrival and takeoff. I've never seen this performed in a real box canyon, but I once watched it flown at an air show in Las Vegas. Imagine you're at the bottom of a box canyon and need to fly out. You use the maximum jump takeoff technique, then immediately begin a steep climbing turn when airspeed has passed Vso plus 10, about 40 to 45 knots. If you maintain your pitch and bank, don't high-speed stall the airplane and all your biorhythms are on a high, you may be able to corkscrew up and out of the box canyon at a few hundred fpm. Obviously, this is a last-resort technique that even most experienced Maule pilots wouldn't try unless winds were calm and temperature was temperate, but it sounds as if it would work with a Maule's extreme high-lift wing and copious power.

Maules come in an almost bewildering variety of configurations with power choices ranging from 180 to 260 hp, fuel injected or carbureted, gear selection between floats, skis, tricycle or tailwheel, and seating up to six folks or one pilot plus an airplane full of anything legal.

It's an airplane for practically all reasons that doesn't care a whit if it's boxy and outdated or constructed the way Maules have been built for the last half century. Some things never get old.

Labels: Piston Singles


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