The massive Martin Mars water bomber is scheduled to fly over Vancouver Island today, and the public is encouraged to come out and take photos of the iconic aircraft.
Owner Wayne Coulson said it could be the last time people will get a chance to see the mammoth machine above Vancouver Island as it prepares to head to a Wisconsin air show.
"We've had such great support from the various communities on the island," Coulson said. "Now we need to find a new home for it. That's the reason we're taking it to Oshkosh."
Coulson Aviation has invested $1-million to fly the aging air tanker to the world’s largest airshow in Oshkosh, Wis. later this month. Visitors to Port Alberni have been stunned to see the plane parked on Sproat Lake this week as it prepares for the eight-hour trip on July 23.
“This is a big undertaking for us,” said Coulson project manager Mayco Noel. “We’ve been working on the aircraft for the last 90 days, with some engine repairs, some sheet metal. So it’s been, definitely, a big investment for us.”
Built in the 1940s and with a wingspan of 61 metres, the Mars is the largest aircraft of its kind still flying today.
Aviation enthusiast Kermit Weeks, who owns one of the world’s largest private vintage airplane collections, (and I just posted him flying a P 51) is footing the $40,000 gas bill in exchange for piloting the mammoth machine south of the border.
“This was the largest airplane built during World War two, the largest sea plane in the world next to the Spruce Goose so with anyone wanting to say they’ve flown the Martin Mars we’re giving people that opportunity” he added.
But the opportunity will not come cheap. A chance to sit in the cockpit, with hands on the controls in the air will cost $25,000 US.
“Day one we’re going to be doing some water taxiing, so get the feel of the airplane on the water, how we dock the airplane, doing some high speed runs and then day two we’ll actually get behind the wheel and go fly it around Port Alberni for an hour” added Coulson.