The British Colombia government cancelled their contract with Coulson Flying Tankers after the 2013 fire season. Both Martin Mars aircraft were put up for sale and the US Navy had planned to buy C-FLYK for display at he National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL. Problems arose and the deal is yet to be consummated, so the big flying boat remains in Port Alberni painted in original US Navy colors.
C-FLYL and C-FLYK at Sproat Lake on a rainy day. I chartered a boat to take me out to see the two Mars up close. It was nice to get up close to them and circle around these huge aircraft. Both of the Mars are retired and its uncertain what their fate will be. Hopefully they will be preserved somewhere.
The launch of a Martin Mars flying boat... a rare and very impressive event to witness! This must be one of Philippine Mars' last launches ever, as it was taken out of service at the end of the 2006 fire season.
Philippine Mars is about to be launched onto Sproat Lake in what would be its last operational firefighting season. The hatch in the nose is already open, from where the steering and towing cable will soon be attached. Note the impressive wingspan and overall size of this amazing aircraft.
Philippine Mars' engine #4 is receiving some necessary TLC. The next day it would be ready for its next mission and be launched onto Sproat Lake, for one of the last times in its career. This venerable lady was withdrawn from use at the end of this 2006 fire season, at the respectable age of 60.
This nose section is from the uncompleted eighth Martin Mars airframe, which would have become BuNo 76825 of the United States Navy. It was acquired by Forest Industries Flying Tankers in the 1960s and stored at their Sproat Lake base near Port Alberni, BC. It lay there in the brush for some 40 or 45 years until it was recovered by its new owners Coulson Flying Tankers in 2007. They restored it into their red and white colours and placed it on display in their visitor centre at Sproat Lake. Photo by: Hans van der Vlist
White-tailed Philippine Mars seen floating peacefully on Sproat Lake near its Port Alberni base, in the last days of its very long career (60 years!). It would be permanently withdrawn from use at the end of the 2006 fire season.
Philippine Mars is being readied for its launch into Sproat Lake, a time-consuming operation. The four TimberWest guys put the huge size of this flying boat into proportion. The photo shows this aircraft's uncommon side drop doors (two on each side), which sistership Hawaii Mars does not have. It has the more conventional system with dropping doors in its belly. This photo was taken 10 days before this aircraft's 60th birthday, and during what would be its final fire-fighting season. This amazing machine was withdrawn from use at the end of the 2006 fire season.
Martin Mars prototype at the Martin factory, repaired following the #3 engine fire on 5 December 1941, but still before its first flight. It is seen here still in its original configuration as a patrol bomber, complete with gun turrets and provisions for bombing. However, the aircraft was soon to be converted to XPB2M-1R transport aircraft, which involved removing all armament and armored plating, and adding extra cargo hatches, cargo loading equipment and reinforcing the decking. Photo from: US Navy / National Naval Aviation Museum
The Martin Mars prototype in take-off at an unknown location, possibly the Pacific off San Francisco. This photo was taken circa 1944, about two years after it had been converted from patrol bomber to transport aircraft, by the removal of its gun turrets, bomb bays, armored plating and other combat provisions. Instead, this transport version received additional cargo hatches and cargo loading equipment, as well as reinforced decking. Photo from: US Navy / National Naval Aviation Museum