Report: B.C. government makes inquiry about using Martin Mars

In the video above the Martin Mars makes a demonstration water drop in Coal Harbor in Vancouver on Forestry Day during the Olympics in 2010. If you like the sound of four 18-cylinder big-ass radial engines, turn up the sound.

(UPDATED at 9:33 p.m. MT, July 6, 2015)

Britt Coulson told us Monday evening that their company already has a Call When Needed contract for the Martin Mars with the British Columbia Wildfire Service but the aircraft has not been activated yet. The Coulson Group told the agency that if they activated it by the end of the day on Monday the Martin Mars could be serviceable and fighting fires on Thursday. As of 6:11 p.m. MT, the Coulsons had not heard from BCWS.

Mr. Coulson also said the wildfire on Sproat Lake is close to their Martin Mars facilities:

We can sit on our dock [on Sproat Lake] and watch the action its so close to our house, this is the first time in our history we have ever fought fire locally.

We have an S61 [large Type 1 helicopter] on it. The Mars base is just down the lake and you can sit in the airplane and watch the fire. It’s so smoky in the valley no traditional airtankers could get in but because the Mars scoops and is all low level it would have made a huge difference.

A great deal of misinformation about contracts and the B.C. government using or not using the Martin Mars is floating around in the mainstream media as well as the social media.


(Originally published at 7 p.m. MT, July 6, 2015)

Several media outlets are reporting that the British Columbia government has talked with the Coulson Group about the possibility of using the Martin Mars air tanker on fires currently burning in the province. One fire is in Sproat Lake Provincial Park a short distance from the aircraft’s base on Sproat Island.

Below is an excerpt from an article in the VanCityBuzz on July 6:

…“We provided the information to them, and that’s where it’s at,” [Wayne Coulson] said. “We’re watering the Mars tomorrow morning and we’re going to start test flying it.”

While there are more cost-effective options available, in the right circumstances, it can now be called on to supplement the airtanker fleet.

The pilots who are test flying it will be the ones who would conduct the operation if the provincial government decides to use the aircrafts. Coulson said the earliest it could be deployed would either be Wednesday or Thursday.

The Martin Mars can scoop up to 7,200 gallons of water and then mix it internally with Class A foam or gel concentrates. The aircraft is not amphibious and must always land on water. It was built in the 1940s and after its service in the U.S. Navy worked as an air tanker in Canada for several decades. The U.S. Forest Service had it on a call when needed contract in 2008 and 2009 and occasionally based it at Lake Elsinore in southern California and Lake Shasta in the north part of the state.

We reported on May 24 that Britton Coulson of The Coulson Group said their company will be using the Martin Mars to train 14 test pilots from China during two weeks in late July who will be the first to fly the new TA-600 amphibious aircraft being built now. The training will include ground, water taxi, flight, as well as scooping and dropping water. The trainee pilots will go through classroom and hands on training using Coulson’s Hawaii Martin Mars aircraft, actually taxiing and flying the huge flying boat.

3 thoughts on “Report: B.C. government makes inquiry about using Martin Mars”

  1. Glad to see the government has realized the value and maybe the mars can be back where it belongs fighting BCs wildfires even if temporarily…well deserved for the safest and cheapest aircraft available and people doing a wonderful job they deserve and are highly underpaid for.

  2. Saw 131 (Coulson’s 130Q) operate out of La Grande today I’m working out there tomorrow I will bring my camera, love the sound of four 3350’s btw,
    but I’m prejudiced…

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