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Fri, Apr 05, 2024

Coulson Aviation Donates Hawaii Mars Flying Tanker to BC Aviation Museum

Long-Lived Flying Boat Finds a Home to Retire

After a very long life as a working bird, firefighting operator Coulson Aviation is putting its Hawaii Mars out to pasture, donating the historic aircraft to the BC Aviation Museum.

The aircraft has been a very high-profile example of WWII flying boat technology, cutting a gargantuan figure everywhere it goes. Now, however, increasing maintenance costs, insurance requirements, and fuel burn have all intersected to make a convincing case for retirement. The Hawaii Mars was one of 4 such aircraft sold into the Pacific Northwest's timber industry, where they began working as flying tankers to safeguard forestry from raging wildfires. The water bombers inaugurated Coulson's fixed-wing firefighting ops when the Philippine Mars and Hawaii Mars were bought in 2007. But every legend has an end, and tech is ever advancing... in some respects at least. To date, the flying boat niche remains largely unfulfilled, even if some bright spots are starting to appear on the horizon. Perhaps in time Coulson will find a suitably large fixed-wing successor to the Mars ships, but for now, audiences will be able to see the last of them in their new resting place in British Columbia.

The company thanked all the help it's seen in keeping the Mars operational all these years, signing off with the news it will soon be in museum hands. "Coulson Aviation would like to acknowledge and thank the BCFS, USFS, and CALFIRE for allowing us, since 2007, to showcase our company's capability to safely and effectively operate these aircraft and serve ground firefighters and citizens under the threat of fire. It has been an honor for our family to be entrusted with these aircraft and the hope they represent for the public in time of need as we have all been negatively impacted in some way by the devastation of wildfire. We will immediately start preparing the aircraft for its final destination, the BC Aviation Museum in Victoria. We are very appreciative of the wonderful people we are working with at BCAM, who have helped make this final journey of the Hawaii Mars its most important mission."



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