Belford D. Maule, or "B.D.", as everyone knew him, was born November 4, 1911 in Old Fort, Ohio to farming parents. Not caring much for farm life, he left at the age of 15 to live in Salladasburg, PA. with an uncle and aunt who owned a garage and tea room. There he demonstrated his mechanical ability by building a tractor, and by motorizing an ice cream freezer and an ice saw, among other things.
B.D. joined the Army when he was 18 and was assigned to the 19th Airship Company at Langley Field, Virginia. While working on dirigibles, he found time to design and build his first airplane, a single seat midwing monoplane powered by a Henderson 27 HP motorcycle engine, known as the M-1. Starting with the airplane on floats, and later on wheels at the Salladasburg farm, B.D. taught himself to fly. (Regulations weren't as strict in those days.)
Following his stint in the Army, B.D. moved back to Pennsylvania and became a family man, marrying June Aderhold in 1934. June and B.D. located in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania and built their own home there in 1936. Note that Jersey Shore is not only June's birthplace but is also midway between Lock Haven (Piper Aircraft) and Williamsport (Lycoming Aircraft Engines). This was an area in keeping with B.D.'s interest in aviation. B.D. went to work for Lycoming, and in 1939 designed and built "the Hummer", a low cost mechanical starter for light aircraft. (Many airplanes did not have electrical systems back then.)
In 1940, the Maule family moved to Jackson, Michigan. Mechanical Products Company was formed to manufacture the Hummer starter (Piper and the Continental Engine Company had shown an interest). In 1941 the B.D. Maule Company was formed in Napoleon, Michigan to build a light aircraft tailwheel which B.D. had designed. The steerable, full-swiveling tailwheel, is still being manufactured by Maule, in an improved form. With the advent of World War II, the starter business waned, and tailwheels were in demand as well as subcontract work to support the war effort.
As a diversion during the latter part of the war, B.D. designed a man-powered glider with flapping wings, known as an ornithopter. He claims to be the first (and is probably the last) person to have successfully flown such a device.
In 1946, B.D. and June purchased a farm near Napoleon, Michigan. With the help of their two oldest children, they converted it to an airport. In the process, they had the dubious honor of leveling a dog race track which had been operated by Al Capone. The airport flourished, being used for flight training during the initial post-war aviation boom.
Maule Aircraft Corporation formed by B. D. Maule at Jackson, Michigan, to manufacture M-4 four-seat light aircraft; production transferred to Moultrie, Georgia, September 1968. The airplane manufacturing business that received its first FAA type certificate in 1961. Prototype flown September 8, 1961, produced as M-4 with 145 hp Continental engine, as M-4 Rocket with 210 hp Continental. M-4 Strata-Rocket with Franklin engine led to M-5-220C Lunar Rocket, flown 1 November 1971, while M-4 Rocket became M-5-210C; M-5- 235 with 235 hp Lycoming 0-540 engine also built. Current name Maule Air Inc., offering large range of four- and five-seat lightplanes for recreational and business uses in the M-7, MT-7 and MXT-7 series. Over 2,000 Maule aircraft built since 1961.
The Maules are built on the Air Force's abandoned Spence Air Base, just east of Moultrie, Georgia. They had been building airplanes for years in Jackson, Michigan, when in 1972, a particularly severe winter convinced them to seek a warmer haven. Moultrie was looking for industry. The first production model, known as the Jetasen M-4 was delivered in April 1962. Then, as now, all Maules are constructed in Moutrie, Georgia.