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B.D. and June Maule

Belford D. and June Maule

B.D. 1911-1995 | June 1917-2009

Belford D. "B.D." and June Maule began their partnership in marriage in 1934, starting not only a family, but what was to become the world's only family owned aircraft manufacturing business.

B.D.'s interest in aviation bean while serving in the United States Army's lighter than air division at Langley Field, Virginia. While there, B.D. earned his mechanics license and soon designed and built his own airplane. It was in that small craft, powered by a 27 horsepower Henderson motorcycle engine, that B.D. first tried his hand at flying.

June and B.D. moved to Jackson in the spring of 1940. They produced B.D.'s invention, the initial starter, which they successfully marketed to Piper Aircraft. Other significant contributions to aviation by Maule include the steerable tail wheel and the non-destructive fabric tester. In November 1944 B.D. became the first person in history to successfully fly an ornithopter. This craft, a glider with flapping wings, was of B.D.'s own design.

B.D. and June completed work on the design for which they are most widely known in 1954. In their own shop in Napoleon on their own airport (B.D. Maule Field) the M4 Maule was designed, built, and flown. This design became standard for short field performance aircraft. After several refinements, the distinctive Maule design would remain unmistakable through the entire product line. In 1956, B.D. won the E.A.A. award for aircraft design for the M4.

June Maule not only worked side-by-side with her husband on all of his projects, but somehow managed to raise five children, serve as hostess to the many dignitaries visiting the Maule manufacturing facilities, and serve as administrator and vice-president of purchasing for the company.
Michigan lost a great asset in 1968 when Maule, having outgrown the Napoleon facilities, moved to Moultrie, Georgia. It was there that the Maule's developed a tricycle gear and turbine version of the now famous Maule aircraft.

B.D. and June Maule were enshrined on August 21, 1993. Their joint efforts provided significant contributions to the field of aircraft design and manufacturing.

B.D. died in 1995, and June continued to be president of the B.D. Maule Company, and continued to be involved with the company until her death in 2009.

Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program