Flying to Huntsville? Your Airplane Should Match the Airport You Fly Into

Choose a Diamond DA62 or a Maule for your family vacation to ‘Rocket City.’

A Diamond D62 airplane soars through clear skies over low mountains in the background.

The Diamond DA62 can carry a load of up to 1,565 pounds and has seating for up to seven, making it ideal for trips with the family. [Credit: Diamond Aircraft]

The Huntsville region is blessed with a wide range of airports to fly into to suit both your wants and desires—and the airplane you fly. Taking the family for a visit to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, or dropping off the kids at Space Camp? You might choose the main airport at KHSV or the paved alternate at KMDQ—and fly in a modern design evocative of the space race. Looking for a more down-home base for your outdoor adventures? Take your STOL mount into Moontown and join the Maule family from across the state line in Moultrie, Georgia.

Modern: Diamond DA62

When Diamond debuted its first light twin—the DA42—it hit a niche that resonated with the training market and private owners alike. With the DA62, it takes those owners a step up in performance and capability to target their mission. And it does it in a way that evokes the lines of spacecraft, like those envisioned by the Star Trek series.

The move up in horsepower drives the change, going from the pair of 168 hp Austro Engine AE 300s to the 180 hp AE 330s, to elicit greater climb performance, slightly longer range, and more useful load. With a max gross weight of 5,071 pounds, the DA62 can carry a load of up to 1,565 pounds. To help achieve this, Diamond extended the fuselage by roughly 2 feet, and the wingspan by more than 3 feet.

Its modern looks go well with the DA62’s ability to operate on a wide range of fuels, owing to those AE 330s: jet-A and at least four variants, depending on where you are based in the world. This makes the DA62 a uniquely sustainable mount among light twins. At max cruise, you can power along at 191 ktas, but if you dial it back to economy cruise at 60 percent power, you’ll burn only 11.8 gph.

Up front, the DA62 features the Garmin G1000 NXi integrated flight deck, with the GFC700 autopilot and enhanced stability protection, among other types of safety features. A single power lever controls the powerplant for ease in engine management, and you can choose options such as weather radar, and synthetic vision.

With a takeoff ground roll of just 300 feet, the Maule MX-7 was made for grass strips like 3M5. [Credit: Jason McDowell]

Grass: Maule for Moontown (3M5)

The Maule family has been building a wide range of light single-engine airplanes for more than 80 years—since it was founded by B.D. and June Maule in 1941. The facility in Moultrie still cranks out several nosewheel and conventional gear models for you to choose from, with a variety of engines and avionics. For your trip into Moontown’s grass strip, you might pick out a Maule MX-7.

The MX-7-180 B and C versions boast a tailwheel—and they’re powered by the 180 hp Lycoming O-360-C1F, with a 2,000 hour TBO. The useful load ranges from 935 to 1,030 pounds, making it a reasonable hauler for your camping gear and other accoutrements. If a nosewheel is more your style, you can choose the straight MX-7-180. Maule is well known for offering just the right list of specs to suit a particular mission.

Regardless of which MX-7 you choose, with a takeoff ground roll of just 300 feet and a landing distance over an obstacle of roughly 900 feet, you’ll make short work of the 2,180-foot strip at 3M5.

This article was first published in the 2022 Southeast Adventure Guide of FLYING Magazine.

Based in Maryland, Julie is an editor, aviation educator, and author. She holds an airline transport pilot certificate with Douglas DC-3 and CE510 (Citation Mustang) type ratings. She's a CFI/CFII since 1993, specializing in advanced aircraft and flight instructor development. Follow Julie on Twitter @julieinthesky.

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