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October 27, 2017 4:38 pm

No Call for the Martin Mars

Thursday, July 13, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

Martin Mars as it  sat in Fraser Lake a few years ago – photo 250News archive

Prince George, B.C.  As wildfires rage across the province, one question has  surfaced ‘where is the Martin Mars’?

“The Mars  is an iconic aircraft” says BC Wildfire Service Chief Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek “I recognize a lot of people have a lot of  nostalgia and respect for it,  and it has been fighting fires in this province for decades, but there are simply just more  effective aircraft available.”

Even if there was a desire to  put the Mars in action,  Skrepnek says  it’s not available “It is our understanding that the Mars is currently  being repaired, and wouldn’t be operationally ready until mid August.”

In a recent facebook post, Wayne Coulson,  of Coulson Flying Tankers which   operates the Mars,  wrote “We told the Province on Saturday that if there was interest in the Mars, it could be made available for early August. We are finalizing the maintenance as we don’t have a contract for the Mars and are currently preparing the aircraft for guests that have booked the ‘Ultimate Flying Experience,’ a program we have been promoting to justify keeping the Mars airworthy. ”

But Skrepnek says the Mars  is  not  needed “We always make sure  we have an appropriate amount of equipment and aircraft ready.  We have brought in  additional aircraft through our mutual aid agreement with other provinces.  There is more modern and cost effective aircraft available, and that’s what we have brought in to augment the fleet we’ve already got.”


I had read that the Martin Mars is under repairs until August.
It would seem to be worth hiring Coulson Flying Tankers in the future, especially if homes are at risk.

From an article on the Martin Mars, Phillipine Mars and Hawaii Mars.
“They can be in the air in ten minutes and, based on historical data, each can make a drop every fifteen minutes. Working in tandem, this equates to 7,200 US gallons (27,276 litres) every seven minutes and each drop can cover an area of up to 4 acres (1.6 hectares). It has often been said that the Mars, with a 60,000 pound (27,216 kilogram) payload of foam, is like ‘a huge wet blanket’.

Not too sure what is up with the Phillipne Mars and Hawaii Mars.

    Phillipine and Hawaii are the names of the two Martin Mars owned by Coulson

Most definitely a gov’t accountant statement. Why would you use the Martin Mars with a capacity of 7,200 gals of water when you can use a helicopter with a capacity of 270 gallons of water.
Kind of like PG buying a Nissan Leaf for use in the snowy winter months of northern BC.

    Not, it’s not about total capacity, it’s about the amount of litres of water you can put on a fire per hour. Smaller, faster, modern and more reliable aircraft working in teams can put way more water (+ a variety of other substances – the Mars is only water) on a fire that the Mars can.

      I’d take a platoon of LAVIII’s over one King Tiger Tank. That’s basically the Mars (WW2 tech) vs. modern fire fighting aircraft.

One thing people don’t seem to understand is that the Martin mars needs roughly a 2.5km straightline to land fill and takeoff which limits it to about half the lakes in BC and it could be a potential one hour turn around between drops. The CL 214 requires a 1km straightline to land fill and take off making it a more viable option but in either case requires the idiots on the lakes in question to stay out of the way which for many is apparently a tall order

    Lac La Hache is on the list of lakes suitable for the Martin Mars.

    That basically means nothing on water limitations as it can be used on fires closest to those bodies of water. Also the mars can make multiple drops with one load allowing the water to be strategically placed. With the volume of water it can carry distance is not much of a restriction.

    The land based bombers are under more restrictions than the mars as only a hand full of airports with the reloading facilities.

    Coulson has Hercules based fire bombers wonder if they have been contracted in BC.

Port Alberni’s Hugh Fraser, who piloted the Hawaii Mars and Philippine Mars from 1977 to 2010:
“There’s not an airplane in the world that can match what these can do under these conditions on Vancouver Island.”

He recalls a fire on Denman Island near Turbine Bay that overran the resources on the ground and threatened some expensive homes. The two water bombers extinguished the blaze with two drops each, the operation completed in less than an hour.

The above post was quoted from:
SEPTEMBER 13, 2013 10:32 PM

    Yup but they had a small fire and a very short turn around time for the bombers whereas most times conditions are not ideal for the bombers to drop that fast. Yes they carry a huge load of water but it all depends on how big the fire is how fast the bomber can refill how fluid the fire is and whether smoke is obscuring the area of the drop amount many considerations


      Look at some of the relevant facts. I believe Mars planes are located in Port Alberni. That is just over 30km by air to Denman island.

      Denman Island is surrounded by water. It is almost as flat as a pancake with a maximum elevation difference of about 275ft from the ocean surrounding it.

      On its east side, the channel to Taxeda Island is about 20km wide.

      One could not find an easier location if one tried.

      The people who are managing the fire fighting are career people who know the resources that are at their disposal. The theory and practice of fire fighting has no political component associated with it.

      The whole thing is moot at the moment anyway. The one plane is going to be mothballed to a museum in Florida and the other one won’t be brought out from maintenance till mid August.

      As a project manager, dependability of resources, whether people or equipment, is of primary concern in emergency services.

      I can totally understand the Forest Service’s point of view.

      So if its all about turn around time how come aircraft are used from airports of which there are very few with the support equipment.

      Ah yes short distance to Denman but two drops, done.

      Yes turn around time is a factor but the Mars makes up for that in volume.

      Now if Alberta had fires right now their bombers would not be available.

      Seems to be politics involved this situation.

      Coulson who owns the mars also has Hercules and is converting 737s

      This is all fine and dandy but dont you think at this stage we should throw every available aircraft capable of getting the beast under control?? So what if it takes a bit longer to do their drops…it all helps.

The Martin Mars is a great aircraft.

The big water bomber of the future is the Boeing 747-400.

A company called Global Supertankers.

Has modified a Boeing 747-400 for fighting forest fires.

It can use water or retardant.

They had deployed it earlier this year to Chile to fight forest fires.

It could probably work from YXS Prince George airport.

Would see it been used only in real super severe conditions.

All someone has to do is make a call and be willing to pay the bill.

Why are people arguing over the use of an aircraft that, as it has been stated, will not be ready for service until sometime in August? It doesn’t matter how much water it can drop if the thing isn’t airworthy.

    People argue on this site just for the sake of arguing..

      LOL. You’ve got that right. Although, a few minutes Googling Coulson’s site would give people all the information they need as to why the MARS isn’t being used.

      First and foremost is that provincial aerial fire fighting contracts have been being awarded to ConAir by the Libs. I guess ConAir’s cheques to the Libs were bigger than Coulson’s. In fact, Coulson didn’t give anything to the Libs, while ConAir contributed 108,000.

      Coulsen must have decided that his money would be better spent upgrading the air tanker arm of his company than helping give Christy a Liberal party funded salary boost. I guess he got that wrong when it comes to provincial contracts. Good thing that his company doesn’t just rely on the largesse of the BC government or he would be out of the aerial fire fighting business by now.

      Secondly, the MARS has been essentially retired since 2013. It was used for one short term contract in 2015. Even Coulson Group thinks the MARS is obsolete, since they have been trying to sell it for a number of years. Their focus has been on converting several 737s, bought from Southwest Airlines, into tanker/personnel carriers. They have also been converting C-130 “Goonies” into water bombers.

      Nostalgia aside, the MARS has seen its days go by. That plane has to be massively expensive to maintain, considering it uses 18 cylinder Wright Cyclone radials as power plants. The MARS as an aerial tanker is done. Time and expense has caught up with it.

Maybe Mr. Coulson hasn’t made his politically correct donation to the right party, and thats why his planes haven’t seen any work lately.

just one drop from the Martian Mars on those morons in their 100k wakeboard boats would be hilarious. One would think if you are going to buy one of those boats? You would actually use them for what they are made for.

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