that, “When you come to work here, it’s kinda like home.”
Bruce was supervising Bobby Brock as Bobby poured molten lead to
ensure the correct balance of an elevator. Bobby has been with Maule
“Bobby and I left Maule for a while to weld on boilers,” Bruce said.
They worked a lot of overtime and made more money but gave that up
to return to Maule. “Boilers don’t fly, and we both had a passion for airplanes,” Bobby said.
REMEMBERING THE FOUNDER
Most of the employees at Maule have a BD story. Lynda Suber said
that Mr. Maule always had a rocking chair, and when BD was inter-
ested in something she was working on, “He’d just sit there, rocking
back and forth.”
In the early days of the company, customers who didn’t specify the
paint colors they wanted always got a red airplane. “Mr. Maule liked to
paint his airplanes red,” Lynda said. “He was something else.”
Charles Casey does all the painting, fiberglass work, prep work, and
finish coats. Charles was unemployed when a friend working at Maule
asked if he wanted to go to work as a painter. “Mr. Maule asked if I had
ever painted before, and when I said yes, he said, ‘Go to work,’” Charles
said. He’s been there 17 years.
Today paint is done in one of two state-of-the-art paint booths, but
many years ago Maule airplanes were painted at the back of one hangar
on the hangar floor. Visitors to the Maule Air website are mystified to
see a photograph of a Maule airplane angled radically skyward after
flying out the Maule hangar door. According to Bruce, BD flew an airplane out of the company hangar four times. The story differs slightly
depending on who’s telling it, but it seems that when BD got the itch, he
would say something about dusting off the paint area.
That was the sign to the employees to clear the inside of Hangar
Two. Soon after the hangar was cleared, BD would position a Maule
airplane at one end of the hangar, start it up, and warm the engine
Company lore says BD Maule flew an airplane out of the company hangar four times.
before firewalling the throttle. Within a few
hundred feet the airplane would lift off, and
he would fly the length of the hangar before
pulling up as he flew past the door opening.
The only time it wasn’t routine was the first
time BD flew an M- 6. The M- 6 has a couple
more feet wingspan and 30 more inches of
flap than the M-5 he had been flying.
“That almost ended up in a disaster,”
Bruce said, as he explained the extra lift
seemed to surprise BD so much he had to
push the nose down to keep the tail from
clipping the hangar structure as he flew the
length of the building and out the door.
“That was the last time he did that.”
Maule’s airplane offerings branch out
from two basic airframes. Brent Maule,
head of sales, explained, “The MX- 7 and
In 1940, Belford D. “BD” Maule and his wife, June, moved to Michigan to start Mechanical Products Company, manufacturing the Hummer mechanical starter for
light aircraft. A year later the BD Maule
Company was formed to build a light aircraft
tail wheel designed by BD. An improved version
of the wheel is still made by the company.
During World War II the starter business
waned, but tail wheels were in high demand.
The company also did some subcontract work
to support the war effort, and BD designed an
ornithopter. He claimed to be the first person
to have successfully flown such a device. In
1946, BD and June converted a farm in
Napoleon, Michigan, into an airport, which
flourished with a flight training business in the
initial postwar aviation boom.