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Hawaiian Mars, Waterbomber Action at Sproat Lake, BC

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.

The Martin JRM-3 "Philippine Mars"

The Martin JRM-3 “Philippine Mars” of transport squadron VR-2 taking off from San Francisco Bay at NAS Alameda, California to Honululu, in 1946.

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.

Coulson Tankers

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”.

Philippine Mars in original USN Livery

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.

Hawaii March at anchor Sproat Lake

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.

Showing a dog the Hawaii Mars

Here is a pair coming back from a Jet Ski inspection tour of the Hawaii Mars.

Jet ski inspection

At about 2:30pm there was some activity at the aircraft. Looks like the crew is boarding.

Crew boarding Mars

At 3pm I got my 2016 “Reward for Patience”. The engines roared to life in a big cloud of smoke.

Engine start

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.

Hawaii Mars Taxiing

We could hear the rumble of the Wright R-3350 engines and suddenly there it was flying over BC.

Flying over BC

It came back a little while later and did a line up for a water drop on Sproat Lake.

Lining up for water drop

The tanks on the Mars can hold 27,000liters, here are some shots of the water drop, from the boat ramp

Starting the water drop

Starting the water drop

Tanks fully opened

Tanks fully opened

Disappearing behind the trees

Disappearing behind the trees

Water curtain from the drop on Sproat Lake

Water curtain from the drop on Sproat Lake

A bit more flying and the Hawaiian Mars headed back to Sproat Lake to land.coming back to land

Landing behind the Philippine Mars

Landing behind the Philippine Mars

Taxiing back to anchor

Hawaii Mars Taxiing back to anchor

Back at Anchor on Sproat Lake

Back at Anchor on Sproat Lake

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


One thought on “Hawaiian Mars, Waterbomber Action at Sproat Lake, BC

  1. The flight crew of The Hawaiian Mars is currently doing re-current flight training along with Mr. Weeks in preperation to fly her to the EAA air show in WI. Not certain of those dates! If anyone has an extra $30,000 or so they’d like to donate so I could have a chance to fly this piece of history, it would be greatly appreciated !! haha.

    Posted by Kim Peters | July 17, 2016, 2:53 pm

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