By MARTY STEINER
The Pilots Lounge at the Maule factory on Spence Field in Moultrie, Georgia, looked more like a child-care center than a fly-in hospitality room during the ninth annual Maule and All Fly-In in late September 2019.
Playpens and infant carriers amplified the family nature of the fly-in at the family-owned business, which has been at Spence Field since 1968. Three generations of Maules have operated this factory, producing the legendary STOL aircraft. Brent Maule, grandson of founder B.D. Maule, is now the president.
The annual fly-in is truly a family affair, attracting Maule aircraft owners, wannabe owners, and retired employees. This year about 40 aircraft made it to the fly-in.
Although Spence Field offers a 4,500′ runway, most of the fly-in operates off of the old military concrete tie-down ramp space and an adjacent, well-groomed grass strip. These are more than adequate for Maule aircraft. Many of the fly-in participants established their campsites alongside their aircraft.
Popular flying activities at the event featured those particular attributes of the Maule line, including classic STOL contests and flight control at low and near-stall speeds.
This year’s variable crosswinds hampered the flour bombers, with no hits within the central target area. But one of the contestants almost scored a direct hit on me while photographing the event!
The “and all” part of the Maule and All Fly-In brought a Just Aircraft from Tennessee that almost “STOL” the show. With both leading edge slats and full width flaps, this aircraft truly can land and takeoff almost anywhere. Owner Tony Armour won the flour bombing competition and technically won the takeoff and landing competition as well. Operating with a totally different technology, he was graciously excluded from the takeoff and landing awards.
The takeoff and landing competition is for the combined distances of the same flight, not the best of each from separate flights. The distances were impressive, with the best performer Bob Guhr of Stockholm, N.J., who posted a takeoff of 210’ and a landing of 275’.
The Maule owner who traveled the farthest to attend the fly-in was from Scotland. He flew in commercially to meet the extended Maule family, purchase some parts, and meet with the Maule technical support team. He is restoring his Maule back home.
Maule aircraft actually flown in had a number of close finishers for longest distanced traveled. Planes from Gainesville and Austin, Texas, as well as Chicago and Henry, Illinois, were nosed out for greatest distance traveled by one from Stockholm, New Jersey. All of these were around 1,000-mile one-way flights.
“It was a great time for everyone to learn about the aircraft, see where they are built, and meet the folks who build them,” Brent Maule noted. “With community breakfasts and other informal time together, it’s just a great extended family get together!”