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Historic water bomber, Hawaii Martin Mars, to be displayed in BC museum

Province of British Columbia
By Province of British Columbia
March 28th, 2024

The Province is supporting the preservation of a historic piece of B.C.’s aviation history to ensure its story can be shared with residents and visitors for generations to come.

“The Hawaii Martin Mars water bomber is a proud symbol of B.C.’s ingenuity and innovation, representing cutting-edge technology in aviation firefighting of its time,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “We recognize the value the Hawaii Martin Mars water bomber holds for many people and have heard their desire to have it housed in the British Columbia Aviation Museum, where it can be displayed and protected as an important piece of our province’s history.”

To protect and preserve the Hawaii Martin Mars water bomber as a significant part of B.C.’s aviation history, the Province is providing $250,000 in one-time funding to the British Columbia Aviation Museum to establish the aircraft as the centrepiece of its new B.C. wildfire aviation exhibit. The new exhibit will be interactive, inviting visitors to explore the features of the aircraft up close, and foster an appreciation for its historical, cultural and aeronautical significance. The Hawaii is one of only two Martin Mars water bombers left in existence.

“This is great news for people with an interest or who work in the aviation industry, and for B.C.’s cultural and tourism sectors,” said Bob D’Eith, Parliamentary Secretary for Arts and Film. “Our government is pleased to support this co-operative effort to add this iconic water bomber to British Columbia Aviation Museum’s permanent collection, where it is sure to become a part of the signature attractions B.C. has to offer our visitors and residents.”

The water bomber’s final flight from Coulson Aviation Tanker Base in Port Alberni to Victoria International Airport is expected before the end of 2024 and will be a multi-phased process. This includes passing federal inspections, crew training and test flights.

The Hawaii Martin Mars can land and take off only on water. Therefore, its last flight will be from Sproat Lake to the Saanich Inlet beside Victoria International Airport. The final stage will take place on the Canadian Coast Guard Base Patricia Bay, a former seaplane port, where the aircraft will be brought up on a ramp, mounted on a trailer and transported across Victoria International Airport runways.

Quick Facts:

  • The Hawaii Martin Mars water bomber was a transport carrier for the United States Navy and served as the largest air ambulance during the Korean War until it was converted in 1958.
  • The Hawaii Martin Mars water bomber was last deployed during the summer of 2015 to extinguish wildfires in B.C., as well as in California, Mexico and Alberta, ending five decades of service in the province.
  • Coulson Aviation will enlist five former certified maintenance engineers and four flight crew to complete approximately 10,000 hours of aircraft preparation and flight retraining over six months.
  • The British Columbia Aviation Museum has a long history of rescuing, restoring and displaying aircraft that are historically significant to B.C.

Learn More:

To learn more about British Columbia Aviation Museum, visit: https://bcam.net/

Categories: General

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