By MARTY STEINER
Maule Air is a family. Most of the immediate family work and live in and around Moultrie, Georgia, a relatively small city in the southwest portion of the state.
The extended family of more than 2,500 Maule aircraft owners cover the globe, many in obscure and challenging environments. This what Maule is all about: Going where the going is rough, tough, and nearly impossible for any other fixed wing aircraft.
Many of those who own Maules were at the Sixth Annual Maule Fly-In, held in September at the company’s factory.
The flight line resembled a mix frequently seen in a Walmart parking lot: Many hardworking, backwoods capable, practical vehicles with a few family sedans here and there.
Fly-in activities included informal factory tours, a local side trip to a hunting plantation for a shooting tournament, and the Staggerwing Country Jamboree on Friday evening. The Jamboree is a weekly happening at Maule, a celebration of country music with some snacks and line dancing thrown in.
Other activities included flour bombing and STOL takeoff and landing competitions. Flour bombing competition is not an unusual fly-in activity across the country, but takes on a different dimension when your stall speed is under 50 mph. The STOL competition was won at an impressive 220′.
Also present was Susan Maule, granddaughter of the company’s founders, Belford “BD” and June Maule, who is now an American Airlines Airbus A-330 pilot. Susan soloed at 16 in a Maule. She recently bought the very same plane she soloed back in 1963 and had it restored at the factory by Kit Wilkes, the plant manager who is married to B.D. and June’s granddaughter, Michelle.
The fly-in wasn’t just a Maule show, with a variety of other makes present ranging from an Ercoupe, a Husky, and the infamous custom-built Super Cub known as the “Swamp Monster.”
Perhaps the few Cessna and Piper owners present were simply Maule wanna-bes. Maule officials confirmed that two such visitors met with Maule personnel about possible future purchases.
Where It Began
According to Brent Maule, grandson of B.D. and president of the company, the annual fly-in began after he attend the Lonestar Maule Roundup.
“I was impressed with the fellowship that I experienced and felt, as well as having a great time,” he said. “The thought was, ‘why don’t we do this at the factory and invite Maule owners from all around the world?’”
“The first couple of years we called it the Maule Homecoming,” he continued. “We had folks with other aircraft interested in attending, so then we changed it to the Maule and All Fly-In.”
It eventually evolved into the Annual Maule Fly-In.
What brought more than 50 aircraft to this manufacturer-sponsored fly-in?
According to Dick and Margie Wydra, who flew 711 nautical miles to the event, it’s all about Maule Air.
“It’s very unusual to have a family run business that does what they do,” Dick said. “They are always very welcoming and we enjoy their company!”
But there’s more to it than that.
“We come to this event to meet other people who fly this unique airplane,” he continued. “We have also gotten many tips on flying and maintaining our 1976 M-5-210C.”
Not only do Maule owners love their planes, but sometimes the Maule has brought love into their lives. The Wydras shared that story as well.
“Margie and I were not married yet when I told her I was going to buy the Maule and finance half,” Dick recalled. “She said, ‘I don’t think so…I’m buying the other half!’ Shortly after I married her.”
And what about Maule Fly-Ins in the future? Brent was a bit vague, but hinted at more than one event a year and possibly adding a “fly-out.”
In any case, the sixth annual Maule Fly-In is now history, but participants, especially the flour bombers, all agreed, “Wait until next year!”