This is a tough one and it's a subject that usually evokes allot of negative press for the Maule. This is the nicest discussion I have seen and I think I have to thank rppearso for diverting some of the negative attention away from the real subject.
In the end, you are the only one that actually has the right answer. I love getting feedback on sites like this and although I never asked, you can be sure that I read all the threads before I bought into the Maule world. I am of the opinion that as long as youíre flying, then we are all part of the same group of gravity defying plilots. I have time in an M6 which I loved and an M5 which I find to be a great plane for the money. I'm getting ready to bolt on a tricked out Lycon built 0-360 so that should be fun! I have never flown an M4 but I have seen them perform well with the right pilot. If you really want to know about the M4 plane, go onto the maule pilots web site and PM yellowmaule. He is one of the good ones. He has allot of time in his M4-210 and he always amazes me at what he can do with that plane. So, there are a few other questions in or original post, what about the M4 and what about the Franklin is it too much and how does it compare to a cub. On to the Franklin.
Franklin-I have flown a 220 Franklin and I loved the engine. It was the most smooth engine I have ever flown. The power was amazing!! My engine was a hard starter and I was not able to find anyone who was really good with maintaining this engine in the valley. It has been mentioned already but parts have become very hard to find so that should be factored into your decision. I suppose that if the price was right, I would ignore some of the red flags as I did when I bought my floatplane with the 220 up front. Bought it cheap flew it around a while, sold it cheap and then moved on. I just can't say good things about owning a 220 right now because the parts are running out and the prices are going up for those parts if you can find them. The 172 is probably the most popular plane in the world but not so much in Alaska other than training. I can't remember how the 172 came into the subject cuase I don't think you asked about that. Anyway, I have had two 172 floatplanes and each winter, I wished that I could put skis on easily. If you can afford a cub, buy a cub, if you can afford a 180, buy a 180, if you can afford a pacer, buy a pacer.... I think you get my point. The M4 is a great affordable plane if you have a good engine up front.
Compared to a cub- They both fly and they are both TW. That's about as far as I can go with that comparison. Thatís not even a bash on Maules it is just the fact that the cub is all alone in its own league. I have really enjoyed my cubs but as the family grew, I had to go a different direction.
Is it too much for a new pilot-Not if you have proper instruction. They can be tricky in the crosswind and that is a fact not an opinion.
You may have noticed my blue M6 on the lake last winter. Small world.
I did what your considering.
I'd buy a nice 172 - Tri-Gear or a 182...maybe....Put 200-hrs on it first in AK. Once ya get that experience, you can make the decision for a conventional gear aircraft.
Nice config 172 with larger engine or even 182 can get in & out most places a Maule can. No flaming HA!
Like one pilot said..."it aint the plane,...it's the pilot..." Ha!.
New pilots in TW planes have more accidents. 200-hrs on tri-gear will give the experience ya need to go to a TW, if you desire too.
I think I wld have enjoyed the tri-gear more then the 180 at first at least.
Just my 2-cents worth.
I've been thinking about this , of course after laughing at the drama from one poster, you may be getting into something that can take the fun out of the flying. I'm sure you would be fine flying a Maule as far as flying goes but you might find that the plane makes you nervous on every landing and T/O. That will take the fun out of the flying and you will not go as often as you would in a tri gear. RR above has some good advise and someone else some very bad. I've flow 172's lots and they are a fine airplane, my wife's airplane is a 150 and it isn't a short field airplane nor a load hauler. It's good what it was designed for training , hard surface r/w , no cargo.. . Modding one dumb, you can buy a 172 for less and do the same or better. For resale stay main stream, piper or cessna. Just my 2C
I took his advice and got my 182. He was right - I don't fly 200 hours a year, and I can fly many days when the winds are a lot more than I would a have accepted if I'd selected a 180.
Can the Maule be a great plane for you? Yup. Will it be the best plane for you and your mission? That's your call. You're doing good by asking for advice from folks with decades in the air. No need to recreate the mistakes of the past . . .
Don't be apprehensive about a taildragger. Get trained, get signed off, go flying. It's not a big deal.
Twenty something years ago, I left Alaska to get my commercial/instrument ratings. When the instructor in AZ asked me if I had any CE-172 time. I told him I had about five hundred hours taildragger time and no nose wheel time! The guy looked at me like I was from another planet.
As far as taildraggers my 170 is my first plane and will continue to be my plane for a long time to come. Would I do anything different now that I have just over 200 hours in it? Nope. Not one single thing. Taxi in wind? No problem. As Griz said remember your ailerons and elevators. Your plane will remind you. Use your training to your advantage. I did. If I found a Maule or short wing piper that fit my needs when I was shopping I would have pulled the trigger without hesitation after a very good pre buy. Can a 172 or 182 handle crosswinds better? Maybe, maybe not, depends on one key thing. YOU.
Surely get a trike if thats what you want, but if you want a TW, get one, you'll be happier with the plane you wanted to buy.
I too learned in a tail-wheel and with the proper instruction is no big deal. You just have to remember the CG is behind the main wheel and wants to get ahead of the main wheels. I had the right instructors.
Although years later it caused problems when I was working on my Commercial since I had never flown a tri-gear until then.. The owner of the Piper Arrow failed to see the humor in me grinding the tail along the pavement while I was trying to figure out why the nose would not stay up....Or why I had problems with which hand should be throttle and which hand should be stick/yoke....
Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
Experimental Hand-Loader, NRA Life Member
Every trike I've seen that was intended for STOL or off airport ops has a tail skid in place. Mine did.
I can't recall having enough elevator authority at idle thrust to scrape the tail. Full yoke back was pretty normal technique for landing. On take-off was a different matter. Trust over the tail made it easy to scrape.
Just remember when recommending a tail wheel to a 125 hr pilot that he was asking about a Maule 220 hp, 4 seat not a J3 or Citabria or a 170. Apples and oranges . Training a nd a sign off is good if the plane one is going to fly is a bit forgiving . The Maule is a little on the light side of forgiving .
I was browsing earlier today, but lost the place. One commenter pointed out that for the money Maules deliver a lot of capability, and that pilots who fly them may be working with more limited budgets than owners of other types, for example the Cessna 180. I don't think income effects get enough attention in safety studies. A very dramatic example occurred about 30 years ago, when the Oldsmobile 88 and the Chevrolet Caprice were almost exactly the same car, down to the powertrain. The Oldsmobile appealed to buyers with higher incomes and had about 60 percent as many accidents as the Caprice. Of course, when looking at planes advertised for particular high-performance, in the case of Maules, short takeoff and landing, there may also be a moral hazard. On the highway we would see this when some of the superbikes have much worse safety records than bikes with more limited performance. The capability does not cause the accidents, it is the attitude of those drawn to the high performance. In the case of the Maule, it may be that the plane encourages unready pilots to attempt to buy their way into bush pilot skills. It is really hard to say what the Maules' safety record would be if they were flown by more affluent and cautious pilots. Maybe a good question would be, can a relatively new pilot, by diligently seeking good and relevant instruction, and using caution while he develops his skill level, manage the risk to keep it at an acceptable level? Another question might be, is the relatively new pilot, by choosing a plane like the Maule, demonstrating that he is not managing risk well?