Readers may be familiar with the Martin Mars, the largest flying-boats ever built in the USA. The prototype first flew in 1942. Only seven were produced, the last of which is still flying as a water-bomber in Canada.
Now comes news that its days may be numbered.
Nearly a dozen jobs are on the line at The Coulson Group of Companies aviation division after news that the provincial government has cancelled a direct award contract for the Martin Mars waterbomber.
Coulson’s flying tankers unit employs up to 20 people during the height of fire season.
Wayne Coulson bought both Martin Mars waterbombers—the Hawaii Mars and the Philippine Mars—from TimberWest in 2007. He has had a direct award contract since 2007 and has worked on more than 20 fires across B.C. since then.
The Martin Mars has also fought fires in California and Mexico.
. . .
Coulson said he’s … looking at his options, which would include selling the Hawaii Mars if someone made an attractive offer.
“We sent out e-mails on the weekend, to some of the Red Bull folks and Virgin Air folks to see if there’s any interest. We may advertise it for a time to see if we get some interest.
“Whether we operate it for them or look at selling it, or if everything fails it will be time to retire it,” he said.
“The worst thing you can do with an aircraft is let it sit.”
There’s more at the link.
It’ll be a sad day if this ‘gentle giant’ is no longer to be airborne. It’s the last survivor of its kind in airworthy condition, using the same engines that powered the B-29 Superfortress and other giants. There’s a lot of history in that airframe.