The Giant, Iconic, Martin Mars Water Bombers that live on Sproat Lake here in Port Alberni, BC are going to keep on working.
Unfortunately, not at home.
On Friday, March 27, owner Wayne Coulson signed a multi-million dollar deal with the United States Forest Service to send the Hawaii Mars to Lake Elsinore, California to fight fires from June 15 to Nov. 15.
“We successfully negotiated a one-year contract with two one-year renewals,” said an obviously pleased Coulson. “This is a performance-based contract, and it’s an honour to have been chosen as the main supertanker in the United States.”
and as for the Phillipine Mars:
While the well-tested bottom-dropping Hawaii Mars works in California, the less-studied side-dropping Phillipine Mars could see service in Australia, where wildfires have devastated entire towns over the past year.
Coulson Aircrane has had three Sikorski helicopters fighting fires in Australia, and negotiations are underway to put the Phillipine Mars to work Down Under.
Am I being selfish when I say I am very sad that the bombers will not be a summertime fixture at Sproat Lake? Absolutely. But I am also realistic, and the best for these planes is that they are flown in the purpose for which they have evolved. They are incredibly good fire fighters and I am proud that a little bit of Port Alberni history, a little bit of *my* family history (my dad served as a copilot on them briefly in the 70s) and a successful Port Alberni company, will be flying these bombers around the world. Protecting thousands of homes, businesses and people.