Print this articlePrint this article


Written by George Kaplan
Fly from any terrain
Product Review
As seen in the November 2018 issue of
Model Aviation



Bonus Video


Specifications

Model type: Semiscale foam aircraft
Skill level: Intermediate/advanced pilots
Wingspan: 59 inches
Wing area: 557 square inches
Airfoil: Flat bottom
Length: 43.3 inches
Weight: 66 ounces
Power system: E-flite 15BL 1,050 Kv brushless motor; E-flite 40-amp ESC (preinstalled); requires a 2,200 to 3,200 mAh 3S to 4S LiPo battery
Radio: Spektrum AR636A receiver and six servos (preinstalled)
Price: $269.99


Test-Model Details

Power system: E-flite 15BL brushless motor; 11 x 7 propeller; E-flite 40-amp ESC; 3S or 4S 2,200 to 2,400 mAh LiPo battery
Flying weight: 66.5 ounces
Flight duration: Varies by battery size; up to 12 minutes


Pluses

• Goes together quickly with only a handful of screws to assemble the airframe.
• Can easily fly with a 3S or 4S battery pack.
• Two hatches allow access to the radio and battery.
• Float set is included in the box at no extra cost.
• Switching between tundra landing gear and floats takes only a few minutes.
• Wide flight envelope for everything from slow flight to high-powered aerobatics.


Minus

• The downloadable airplane setup for the Maule does not include elevator-flap mixing.




Using the flaps will greatly widen the E-flite Maule M-7’s flight envelope. It can slow down to ridiculously slow speeds while still being fully controllable.



Product Review

The subject of this product review is the Horizon Hobby E-flite Maule M-7 1.5M BNF Basic. This kit is a semiscale version of the full-scale Maule M-7, manufactured by Maule Air, Inc. in Moultrie, Georgia.

When doing research for this review, I was surprised to see the M-7 is a true workhorse of a design. It can be outfitted with traditional tail-dragger gear, tricycle gear, and even floats. It can carry up to 75 gallons of fuel for extended-range flights, making it a great bush plane with which to reach remote areas. Besides all of this, the Maule is also an effective Short Takeoff & Landing (STOL) aircraft.

The E-flite Maule is an officially licensed tribute to the full-scale aircraft, but in park flyer size. It is also a completely STOL-capable design that includes plenty of molded-in details, LED navigation lights on the wings, flaps, tundra-type landing gear, and a set of floats so you can fly from nearly any terrain.

As a BNF model, most of the work is done for you at the factory. The box contains only 18 parts, two bags of hardware, and the manual.

The molded-foam airframe comes in a red and white scheme that is accented with yellow and black striping. I couldn’t find this exact color scheme and matching N-number online, but it certainly looks as though it was taken from one of the full-scale M-7s.

There are several small touches that give this semiscale kit a bit more realism. Molded into the leading edge is a series of vortex generators that run the length of both wing panels. Other scale touches include molded-plastic fuel caps, main gear fairings, and spats; all are glued in place.

The preinstalled radio system is a Spektrum lineup with an AR636A receiver and mini servos. The receiver has Spektrum’s AS3X stability system and the optional SAFE Select flight envelope protection.

Rounding out the kit are the spinner, propeller, a bit of hardware, and the landing gear. It’s interesting that Horizon Hobby chose to include both a tail-dragger gear with big, foam tundra tires as well as a float kit at no extra cost.


Assembly




The Maule kit’s low parts count means that you can go from this to fully assembled in less than 20 minutes.


With only a handful of screws needed, assembling the Maule takes roughly 15 minutes and only takes up four pages of the 68-page manual!

First the vertical fin and stabilizer are bolted to the rear of the fuselage. The main gear is bolted on next and then the stabilizer’s reinforcing struts are attached. After bolting on the spinner and propeller, the pushrods for the elevator and rudder are installed.




Whether using the traditional gear or the float kit, the gear easily slides into these slots and are held in place with a series of hex-head screws.


The removable wing can be installed at any time. It rides on a wing tube and there are three connections that need to be made for each side of the wing aileron, flap, and lights. The wing halves are held to the fuselage with two upper screws and one lower screw that holds the wing strut to the bottom of the fuselage.




Both wing panels are removable for easy transportation and storage. Simply plug in the three harnesses on each side, attach the mounting screws, and you’re ready to go.


Care needs to be taken when attaching the two upper screws. They are located on the bottom of the wing surface and are close to the side of the fuselage. If you’re not careful, you could scratch the windows or even possibly pop them out of the fuselage using a smaller hex-wrench. Using a long ball driver should eliminate any problems.




Wing struts come premounted to the wing panels and are attached to the fuselage with a single bolt. The wing mounting bolts are positioned quite close to the fuselage windows.


At this point, the Maule is fully assembled and ready for binding and control setup. The assembled Maule weighed 66.5 ounces with a 3S 2,200 mAh LiPo battery installed.

There are two hatches located on the fuselage. One is the battery hatch slightly in front of the windscreen. The other is on the underside of the fuselage, behind the main gear. That hatch gives access to the receiver. Both hatches are held in place with a spring latch mechanism that might go unnoticed with a quick glance.

Before firing up the airplane for the first time, I went to the Spektrum website and downloaded the DX18 radio setup for the Maule M-7. It only requires a quick transfer between a computer and the transmitter via an SD card.

When binding the AR636A receiver, you’ll need to decide whether you’d like to utilize the SAFE Select system because the binding procedures are different. SAFE is different from the AS3X stabilization that works all of the time, because SAFE can be turned on and off with the flip of a switch.

When activated, SAFE offers pitch and bank angle limits that keep the model from rolling or pitching upside down. It will prevent excessive climb or dive angles during takeoff and landing. SAFE also has automatic self-leveling that instantly returns the wing to level when the sticks are released.

For the purposes of this review, I did not activate the SAFE system, but having used it in previous reviews and seeing it used by other pilots, it is a good system when calibrated properly and could help save the model when flown by less-experienced pilots.


Flying

Unusual for an electric model, the Maule’s power specifications call for either a 3S or 4S LiPo battery. If you think about it, that’s a huge difference in power, potentially adding an additional 33% zip without burning up the installed ESC or overstressing the airframe. For the first flight, I chose a standard 3S 2,200 mAh LiPo battery.

Taking off for the first time without flaps, the Maule lifted off in approximately 50 feet and climbed with decent authority. The 3S system has plenty of power, and with a little trimming, the M-7 felt comfortable.

The obligatory photo passes were next and for once, my photographer wasn’t yelling at me to slow down. True to Horizon Hobby’s claims, I was able to slow the aircraft to almost ridiculously low speeds. Throwing in flaps allowed me to bring the speeds down even further—almost to a walking pace when going into the wind.

I was surprised that the online M-7 configuration did not include elevator-flap mixing. When I lowered the flaps for the first time, I was caught off guard when the Maule instantly pitched nose-up and required substantial down-elevator to hold level flight. This is not a big deal, but remember to add this mix in.

After we took the photos, I explored what was capable with the 3S setup. I think it’s the perfect amount of power for the airplane, especially when flying in a park or ball field.

With its flat-bottom airfoil, the Maule is not a Pattern aircraft, nor is it intended to be. But it does make for a great, gentle barnstormer with plenty of power for loops, rolls, hammerheads, and even extended inverted flight. Snaps and spins aren’t the best, but that’s okay. Instead, lower the flaps and have a ball just cruising around at slow speeds with some tight Figure Eights.

Using the flaps during takeoff will significantly shorten the takeoff roll. I was able to consistently get the Maule airborne with full flaps in less than 10 feet while using full power. When using flaps for landing approaches, the M-7 can come in at a steep approach (40° to 50°) without gaining speed while still remaining fully controllable. This works well for practicing spot landings because it allows plenty of time to line up the approach and touch down where you want with a short rollout.

Everything I’ve mentioned until now is how the Maule should be flown—in a relatively, scalelike manner (with the exception of the inverted flight); however, all of that goes out the window after installing a 4S LiPo battery pack. Suddenly, the Maule turns into a rocket ship when under full power.

Takeoffs occur within 5 feet and there’s enough power to climb vertically and remain vertical until you decide to stop climbing (or the battery pack runs out of power). Passes under full power are more akin to a Pylon racer than a four-seat civilian workhorse aircraft. You will never want for power for even the largest loops. The only word I can think to describe the kind of power in this airframe is “ludicrous.”

Regardless of what I tried to do, or how violently I tried to do it, the M-7 showed no signs of flutter or weakness. The aircraft is apparently designed and reinforced to handle the type of crazy flying that overpowered airplanes seem to bring out in most pilots.

Hovering and high-alpha flight isn’t my thing, so I allowed a few club members to see what the Maule would do. They had a ball playing with the throttle and elevator, changing the flying nature of the M-7 into a hovering machine.


Floats




A complete float kit is included with the Maule. It goes together with a few screws and includes a preinstalled servo for the water rudder.


One last thing I’ll touch on is the included float kit. It can be assembled in just a few minutes and is bolted to the fuselage after removing the main tundra gear. The left pontoon has a preinstalled servo that’s hooked up to the water rudder. You’ll need to run the servo extension up one of the float legs and into the fuselage. The included Y harness can be tied into the rudder channel on the receiver.

Although the water rudder is tiny and doesn’t appear to have much throw, it is surprisingly effective when taxiing. I was easily able to steer the Maule anywhere I needed. The turning radius is not much larger than the length of the fuselage.

The only thing I would note with the floats is that when taking off without flaps, it can take a longer run until the M-7 lifts off. Several of the first takeoff attempts were much longer than I thought they would be, and I was holding a lot of up-elevator toward the end, making the Maule jump abruptly into the air. Half or full flaps made a much smoother and shorter takeoff run without needing a crazy amount of up-elevator.


Conclusion

Horizon Hobby’s E-flite Maule M-7 has the widest flight envelope of any airplane I’ve flown. Because it’s quick to assemble and easy to fly, it makes a good choice for anyone looking for a great-flying model that can be flown in nearly any open area.

It’s faithful to the full-scale Maule’s lines and looks, with the wing’s navigation lights giving it something special. Add in the useful flaps, the large tundra tires, and the included float set and it’s a lot of airplane for the money.

Being able to use 3S or 4S battery packs give you the option to calmly cruise and have fun barnstorming or give the M-7 ballistic speeds, unlimited vertical flight with high-alpha, and even hovering capability.

This, combined with the built-in AS3X stabilization, makes the M-7 a smooth, predictable, and agile design. Activate the optional SAFE Select system and the Maule could easily be used as a trainer with 3S power.

Expect 8- to 12-minute flight times, depending on how aggressive you are with the throttle.

Be sure to check out the video I made that accompanies this review. I put the Maule M-7 through a range of high- and low-speed maneuvers, and even get it wet with the floats. It was a tough job, but thankfully I was the one to do it.




The Maule handles quite nicely on the water but it takes up-elevator to rise from the surface.


—George Kaplan
flyingkaplan@yahoo.com


Manufacturer/Distributor:

Horizon Hobby
(800) 338-4639
www.horizonhobby.com


Sources:

Spektrum
(800) 338-4639
www.spektrumrc.com






Add new comment