Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Mars May Rise Again

The sole survivor, it is moored on Vancouver Island's Sproat Lake a short drive west of Port Alberni.  It's the giant, Hawaii Mars, the last of what once was a small fleet of the biggest flying boats ever built, successfully converted into massive water bombers.

Yeah, That Big.

When, several years ago, I retired to the island I quickly learned of this deep affection the locals had for these Mars water bombers that they saw as their guardians against the threat of forest fires.  These planes were beloved, literally venerated.

Sproat Lake, Home Base

A couple of years ago the British Columbia government washed its hands of the Mars, claiming there were more cost-effective alternatives to dousing forest fires. Now, it seems, they've sobered up and think they might want the big red and white giant in the skies again.

Wayne Coulson, CEO of the company that owns and operates the Mars, says there's been a "certain public outcry" to return it to service.  Now there's an understatement.  Its first job could be right on its doorstep, a forest fire that's burning adjacent to Sproat Lake.  Maybe that's a sign, I don't know.


ThinkingManNeil said...

I thought she'd been repainted and sent to the Naval Aviation Museum at NAS Pensacola a year or two back. Painted her Gloss Sea Blue, Stars & Bars then flew her southward?


PS. I do love that airplane, BTW...

The Mound of Sound said...

Fortunately the "Hawaii" still floats on Sproat Lake where Coulson says they can have her ready to go in just a few days.

I have delightful memories of watching that big red machine fly overhead, its size making it appear almost stationary.

There's an equally delightful pub tucked away on the back road, the Fish and Duck, a lovely place to while away a bit of time gazing out over Sproat Lake and the last of the legendary Mars water bombers.

ThinkingManNeil said...

There's something about really large aircraft that fascinates me. It's not just that it's the same forces of physics and aer0dynamics that lifts both them and a diminutive Piper Cub aloft, but. like you say, they seem to be barely moving in the sky when in fact they're usually clipping along at at least 200 kts.

One of my personal favourites is the Antonov An-22 "Antaeus", the world's largest turboprop:



The Mound of Sound said...

My first experience of a "big" turboprop was the RCAF Canadair Yukon, CL-44, back in the late 60s. We moved a lot of troops and freight to Europe in those things. At the time they had the biggest props (I think) in the world. They featured a hinged tail for fast and easy cargo loading.

I think the maritime patrol Argus was based on the same airframe a re-engineered version of the Bristol Brittania. (confession: I had to Wiki the name of the original British aircraft). There's an Argus on display at CFB Comox, up-island.

One thing about those Russian counter-rotating prop jobs is the noise they kick out. Pilots intercepting the Bears say they can hear it before they see it.