In 1989 I announced to my mother “that I had ordered a factory new seaplane”! Her response being, “but you don’t know how to fly!”
I had arranged flight school in Rockledge, Florida for my PPL while the Maule factory-built my first seaplane, an M7-235 on straight Aquafloats. My seaplane rating followed at Browns Seaplane Base in Winterhaven. With just over 50 hours of flying experience I arrived at the Maule factory to collect my brand new aircraft. I had learned from a friend that the Maule would ‘really take care of me’. This became so very true with the four Maule seaplanes owned throughout my flying career spanning 23 years, having accumulated over 12,000 hours of experience opening the first commercial seaplane charter service in the Bahamas in 1990.
Each Maule seaplane provided a really trustworthy aircraft, a fabulous performer for the extremely tight spaces I had to work with in some of the Bahama Out-Islands. There was no other seaplane that could safely negotiate the narrow creeks of some bonefish lodges and take up to three passengers and luggage effortlessly! With flight-seeing day trips I could easily carry four passengers (installing that 5th seat in the rear compartment) within weight allowances, plus myself and near full of fuel.
In early days I had to navigate within the confines of a commercial harbour loaded with boat traffic. The Maule could maneuver safely and become airborne quickly and on return land in extreme short distances. My M7-260 Maule became the star of TV commercials, film and magazines becoming the most photographed seaplane in the Caribbean!
My final Maule before retiring was the M7-260 on Baumann Amphibious floats. With that added weight of the heavier floats, this Maule performed as if on straight floats, making no difference in performance! These fabulous airplanes are built beautifully and with their Lycoming engines and three-blade McCauley propellers, every pilot can look forward to the best and safest flying experience!
Sincerely, Capt. Paul W.J. Harding
Sharks in the Runway is available on Amazon.com