I knew there was something going on at Sproat Lake. Lots of chatter on the Internet about an upcoming flight of the Hawaii Mars, but no information about day/times of the actual flight.
On Tuesday night Coulson Air Tankers posted this photo on their FB page showing both aircraft at anchor in the lake.
A bit of Martin Mars background. Martin JRM Mars, a large, four-engined cargo transport seaplane originally designed and built in limited numbers for the U.S. Navy during the World War II era. It was the largest Allied flying boat to enter production, only seven were built.
Four of the surviving aircraft were later converted for civilian use to firefighting water bombers, after being bought by MacBlo Forest company. Two still survive and are stationed on Sproat Lake just outside of Port Alberni, British Columbia, Canada.
I decided to drive “up Island” to Sproat Lake near Port Alberni BC Wednesday Morning. Arrived there at 9:30 am. Public access is a problem around Sproat Lake, so I had to settle for a boat ramp, which of course limits your view in one way and broaden it in another from a photographers view.
Both aircraft were bobbing in the water. The Philippine Mars painted in original USN color. This one is/was supposed to go to USN Museum in Pensacola as a barter deal where Coulson Tankers would get a C-130 Hercules in return. It is apparently entangled in some “Red Tape”.
Hawaii Mars has not done much firefighting over the last two years and is coming to the end of its active life. Couson is offering a US $ 25,000 experience for licensed pilots that includes ground school, taxiiing and flying the aircraft and dropping one load of water.
There was lots of activity on the boat ramp, some people wanted to show their dog the Hawaiian Mars and this is how they did it.
Here is a pair coming back from a Jet Ski inspection tour of the Hawaii Mars.
At about 2:30pm there was some activity at the aircraft. Looks like the crew is boarding.
At 3pm I got my 2016 “Reward for Patience”. The engines roared to life in a big cloud of smoke.
After the smoke cloud it taxied out of sight for the take off and you could hear the rumble from the Wright R-3350 Duplex-Cyclone.
We could hear the rumble of the Wright R-3350 engines and suddenly there it was flying over BC.
It came back a little while later and did a line up for a water drop on Sproat Lake.
The tanks on the Mars can hold 27,000liters, here are some shots of the water drop, from the boat ramp
When I got back home that night I was happy that I followed my gut instinct and went to Sproat Lake expecting nothing and getting a lot.
Photos: Please quote source “World Air Photography” if using them. Story by Flyvertosset a.k.a. Kai Hansen
Flyvertosset, BC, Victoria, Canada