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Jan 16 2014

Roland Maheux

***UPDATE 1/19/19*** The photo to the right has been shown to NOT be of Roland Maheux, but instead of Merle Larson, a California based pilot. The photo was taken by William Larkins back in 1946. Read more about it here.

20140116-081918.jpgWe’ve all seen this photo, but it wasn’t until recently that I leaned a little bit about the history behind the man in the picture, Roland Maheux.

From Stu Tinker, as shared on the Stunt Fliers and Airshow Greats Facebook page:

“Roland Maheux (later changed to Maheu) from Lewiston, Maine would shut the engine off on his Cub, stop the prop and then get out and hand prop it at airshows all around New England. He did it solo for years until the FAA went nuts and made him take someone to hold the brakes and land it if he ever fell. He never did!”

20140116-081938.jpgA little more background on Maheaux was found on the always wonderful Little Known and Abandoned Airfields website, as recalled by Clarence Dargie:

“Roland Maheux was a very interesting character. He never had a flying lesson in his life. He bought what I believe was a Heath Parasol at age 16, climbed into it & taught himself to fly. He opened his airport during the 1930s. He kept his first airplane in a farm field south of Taylor Pond.”

Maheux actually founded two Maheux Airports, one in Auburn, ME sometime between 1938-41, and then another in Minot, ME sometime in 1943-44. The history of the first is somewhat interesting. It was sold to a local butcher, and then became a hot spot for delinquent pilots, with a bad reputation in the local community.

Again, from Clarence Dargie:

“Other pilots started using it and it developed into an airport which was later bought by Wilfred Charest, aka, The Butcher. Maheu had already opened the new Maheux Airport in Minot before selling the Taylor Pond one to Charest. Rumor had it that bad blood developed between Charest and Maheu over some shady aspects of the airport sale.

The single grass runway ran north & south… about 1,200′ long. There was an office building & a couple of hangars.

20140116-082952.jpgThe field was owned by Wilfred Charest, a butcher by trade who owned a butcher shop in Auburn. Thus, the field was more popularly known as The Butcher’s.

It was an outlaw field that played host to every misfit pilot in the area, most of whom had been banned from other local airports for dangerous & unorthodox behavior. In fact, Roland Maheu cautioned us students that any of us he caught landing at the Butcher’s would be grounded for a month.

I never landed there but did fly in the vicinity to observe the antics of that wild bunch and one day watched as someone in a Waco UPF-7 did low altitude loops over the center of the field as airplanes were landing in both directions.

A few days later, one of the Butcher’s Boys, as they were known, was killed in a Stearman along with his passenger when he crashed into the pond while doing slows rolls on final approach to the runway.”

Roland Maheu (previously Maheux) passed away in his home January 16, 1999.

-WB

3 comments

  1. Gary Pavek

    I have no reason to doubt that Maheu risked his life in such a spectacular fashion, but there is reasonably good evidence that the photograph is of Merle Larson, attested to by William Larkins who claims to have taken the photograph in November 1946.

    This thread lead me to that information:

    This is the post where Larkins explains the photo:

    This is the registration record for that tail number. Notice that prior to the registration’s cancellation in November 1947 (a year after the photo), the plane belonged to a man in Selma California, which is a couple of hours drive from Concord — and a heck of a lot closer than Lewiston, Maine.

    1. Whiskey Bravo

      Gary,

      Thank you very much for the correction. I’ve updated the post on Roland Maheux, and added a post on Merle Larson.

      I really appreciate your time and efforts in providing the appropriate documentation to give credit to both the pilot and photographer of this widely circulated photo.

      -WB

  2. Gary Pavek

    I forgot to include Larkins’ Facebook page:

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