(reproduced from Flight Training Magazine, May 1992)
Learning to fly at “Tailwheel University”


(click image to enlarge - 266K)

There are very few flight schools in the nation today at which you can learn to fly, or learn to fly in, a Taildragger. Unless you go to southwestern Georgia. There, at Moultrie’s Spence Field, tail-wheel capital of the world and home to Maule Aircraft Co., is Maule Flight Inc. At this school, you’ll have the opposite problem — finding a nose-dragger.

Raymond Maule, Maule Flight president and son of B.D. Maule, designer and president of Maule Aircraft, ran a flight school at Jackson, Mich., which he established in May 1967. Closing the school when Maule moved to Moultrie in 1979, he decided to reestablish his school in 1992 when he saw the need for quality, comprehensive tailwheel and pilot training.

Currently operating under Part 61, and with Part 141 FAA approval due May, Maule’s students will not fly a Nosewheel airplane until they are working on their commercial certificate.

Some people think that because an airplane has a tailwheel, which connotes primitive flying, that Taildraggers are lucky to have a compass and radio. Most Maules are fully equipped for instrument flight rules (IFR) flight. This means a full complement of dual nav/comm radios, automatic direction finder (ADF), and transponder. Most are also equipped with DME (distance measuring equipment) and Loran-C. Quite a few also have GPS (Global Positioning System — satellite navigation) systems.

And educated they will be. When compared to Nosewheel airplanes, flying Taildraggers is “work-intensive.” The Maules are no different. Although they are not “tricky” airplanes to fly, pilots must fly them from the moment they are untied until the moment they are again shackled to the ground. And learning in a tailwheel Maule will take no longer than it would in a nose-dragger.

“When students are learning to fly, they don’t know the difference between Nosewheel and tailwheel airplanes,” Stroup says. “Because they have no preconceived notions or prior experience, what challenges a Nosewheel pilot is normal, everyday flying to those who learn in a Taildragger.”

Admitting bias, Ray Maule adds that tailwheel-trained students will be better pilots because of the challenges they face and meet when tailwheel flying. While some might debate this, one aspect of Maule’s training cannot be challenged — it’s comprehensive, real-world training experience.

When Maule students learn short-and soft-field takeoffs and landings, after initial practice on Spence Field’s 10,000-foot runway (that’s right, 10,000 feet; it’s a former Air Force Base), they will be practicing on real short and soft fields, one of which is located in Ray Maule’s backyard (a 2,000-foot grass strip with 80-foot trees at one end). And because Moultrie is located between the Gulf of Mexico and the Appalachian Mountains, students get a variety of real-world training experiences that will meet their current or future needs. About the only experience they can’t get locally is flying on snow.

The school offers 10-hour tail-wheel checkouts that are now required by FAR 61.31(d)(2). This course is divided into four lessons that take pilots from straight-and-level, steep turns, and stalls to the gamut of normal, crosswind, and short- and soft-field takeoffs and landings. Perhaps the school’s greatest training aid is at the other end of the airport— the Maule factory. When students start learning aerodynamics and aircraft structures and systems, their training aids will be real airplanes under construction. This benefit should not be overlooked. You can read, for example, all you want about the pitot-static system, but if you really want to understand it, watch a technician plumb it on a production airplane.

Although Maule’s very competitive prices are based on FAA minimums, the school plainly states up front that everyone learns at a different rate and that few will complete their training in the minimum time. Perhaps the greatest aspect of Maule Flight’s training is the educational atmosphere. It is relaxed, comfortable, down-home. Everyone, from Raymond Maule down, will take the time to talk, discuss, and explain anything. And one gets the impression that this desire for students to learn isn’t just the result of customer service, it is because the teachers are eager to share their knowledge, eager to have their students take wing and have some fun.

For more information,
contact Ray Maule at Maule Flight Inc.


[Home] [New Aircraft] [Used Aircraft] [Services] [Maule Features]
[About Us] [Visit Us] [Contact Us] [Links]

© Copyright 2002-2003 Maule Flight Incorporated. All rights reserved.