(Note to our readers: the above video was shot several days ago during a successful demonstration flight of the Martin Mars.)
The Martin Mars struck shallow rocks in Lake Winnebago on Friday while doing a demonstration during Wisconsin’s EAA AirVenture Oshkosh airshow, according to a Canadian news report.
Pilots were scooping water out of the lake when an engine warning light came on, and they were forced to abandon take off. The plane struck shallow rocks, which punched a few repairable holes in the plane’s belly, according to the news report.
Coulson has been working on both of their Martin Mars aircraft, the Hawaii Mars and the Philippine Mars. At one point this week both of them were floating in Sproat Lake adjacent to the Coulson facility for the flying boats.
The company has repainted the Philipine Mars. It no longer has the red and white air tanker colors and now resembles its original military paint scheme. Coulson is still pursuing a plan to sell or trade the aircraft.
The organizers of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016 announced that the Martin Mars flying boat airtanker is scheduled to participate in their 64th annual Experimental Aircraft Association fly-in convention, July 25-31 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
During the event, the massive airplane will be parked near the EAA Seaplane Base on Lake Winnebago a few miles east of the main fly-in grounds. It will also perform several demonstrations throughout the week during the daily afternoon air shows.
The two Martin Mars aircraft now owned by the Coulson Group, the Philippine Mars and the Hawaii Mars, were converted to water scooping air tankers. They are not amphibious like the CL-215/415 — they always have to land on water. The huge aircraft can carry 7,200 gallons of water which can be mixed with gel concentrate to drop on fires. The Mars no longer have contracts to fight fires.
The Coulson Group plans to bring the Hawaii Mars to Oshkosh.
“This is the last flying Mars in the world and the largest warbird ever built,” said Wayne Coulson, chief executive officer of Coulson Flying Tankers. “There isn’t a better aviators venue than EAA AirVenture, so it’s an honor to be part of this world-class event. We’re very excited to bring the Hawaii Mars to Oshkosh as we look for new opportunities and host potential clients, as well as showcase this magnificent airplane’s capabilities.”
(Originally published at 8:52 a.m. PT, July 29, 2015)
This image of the Martin Mars dropping on a fire near Skutz Falls on Vancouver Island yesterday is a screen shot from a video by Jody Kerrone. We are unable to embed the video here, but you can see it on the Wildfire Today Facebook page.
The Martin Mars was preceded by a jet-powered lead plane, or Bird Dog as they are called in Canada.
Wednesday afternoon Coulson Flying Tankers released the following information about the mission:
“Last night the Mars made a total of six drops on the fire at Skutz Falls. The drops averaged 21,600 litres [5,706 gallons] per drop for a total of 130,000 litres [34,342 gallons] in approximately 1.5 hrs, beginning with the first scoop at 7:30 p.m.
The turn times averaged 15 minutes per drop which was excellent with some 8 minutes drop cycles. As there were other aircraft working on the fire we had to allow them the time to get clear prior to each drop. It was an example of great teamwork, working in tandem with the other aircraft.
The current fuel load allows the Mars to stay airborne for approximately 6 hours prior to refueling. With this much fuel on board at the beginning of the scooping cycles we have to scoop a few smaller loads until we burn enough fuel to get up to maximum load capacity.
Every aircraft is the same with regard to maximum fuel load. All aircraft have to balance the amount of fuel on board and take into account the outside air temperature as well as working altitude and then factor in the load capabilities. However for the most part smaller aircraft carry only enough fuel for a maximum of 3 hours.”
On Saturday, July 18, the Martin Mars flying boat completed its first mission under their new 30-day contract with the British Columbia Wildfire Service. According to Coulson Flying Tankers, the owner of the water-scooping air tanker that can hold up to 7,200 gallons, the aircraft flew a total of 8 hours. Of that, 4 was spent ferrying across the province and back, and the other 4 was used to drop 9 loads of water for a total of 52,800 gallons. They did it without having to land and refuel.
Coulson said the aircraft dropped 158,503 gallons in one day on fires near Lake Shasta in northern California in 2008. In the late 1970s, according to the Coulson company, the Hawaii Mars dropped 200,000 gallons in one day.
The Martin Mars 7,200-gallon flying boat air tanker has received a 30-day contract with the government of British Columbia. It was serviceable on Sunday, July 12 but since then has not been dispatched to any fires.
CKNW AM radio is reporting that the contract specifies a daily availability rate of $15,000 and a flight hour rate of $6,000. The average rates for the 14 large air tankers that the U.S. currently has under exclusive use contracts are a daily rate of $22,901 and $8,408 for each flight hour. Of those 14 air tankers, 13 of them can carry up to 2,000 to 4,000 gallons, and the DC-10 holds 11,600 gallons.
…Coulson has a contract with International Test Pilot School (ITPS) from Ontario, Canada dating back to October of 2014. The contract is for Chinese Test Pilots to familiarize themselves with the largest float plane in the world.
The Chinese government currently has under construction the second largest seaplane in the world called a TA 600, which these pilots will be flying.
The original contract was between July 20 to July 30, but a modified contract is now in place where the aircraft will train the test pilots between July 20-26.
Coulson has also negotiated with ITPS the condition that the Mars must stay on call to the BCFS and a procedure has been worked out to remove flight crew being trained so the Mars can go to a fire if called.
We appreciate both the flexibility of ITPS and the BCFS to work out a solution to accomplish the goal of servicing both customers.