Port Alberni, British Columbia – June 24, 2024: Coulson Aviation’s donated Hawaii Mars (Martin JRM-3 Mars) waterbomber is now tentatively scheduled to arrive in Victoria, B.C., sometime in August, several months ahead of schedule. Coulson announced the donation of its 1940s World War II-era converted waterbomber to the museum this past April for an expected delivery in the Fall of 2024.

“Our Mars maintenance and flight crews have been working diligently to prepare the aircraft for its final flight,” said Coulson Aviation President and COO, Britt Coulson. “Despite what you might have seen in the media, the maintenance of this aircraft is still in flux. Various factors continue to impact the schedule, making it difficult to establish a precise completion and delivery date. However, we are pleased to announce that we have surpassed its original expected fall arrival date.”

When all maintenance, inspections, and government approvals are complete, the Hawaii Mars will take off from Sproat Lake in Port Alberni and land at Patricia Bay in the Saanich Inlet directly beside the Victoria Airport. Please note that a water drop will not be performed during this flight. After arrival, it will be de-watered then carefully transported across the Victoria Airport through a carefully orchestrated set of procedures to rest beside the museum.

“We are grateful to Coulson Aviation and thrilled to offer a home for the largest aircraft on display on Vancouver Island,” said Richard Mosdell, project lead on the museum’s Save the Mars Team. “Once the aircraft is settled in the museum’s BC Wildfire Aviation Exhibit, the BC Aviation Museum plans to offer a unique open format that allows visitors to experience the Hawaii Mars up close and personal, including the opportunity to sit in the 4-story cockpit. “

This final landing in Victoria marks the end of an 80-year storied history for the Hawaii Mars. One of only two remaining Martin JRM-3 Mars waterbombers, the Hawaii Mars flew cargo between Hawaii and the Pacific Islands during World War II. It later supported the Korean War with medical transport between Hawaii and California before transitioning to cargo operations between the two states. The four-aircraft surviving fleet was sold to a consortium of BC timber companies in 1958 and converted into the world’s largest waterbombers to fight forest fires, carrying 27,000 liters (7,200 US gallons) per drop.

Coulson purchased the two Mars aircraft in 2007, marking the beginning of the BC company’s fixed-wing air tanker operations for aerial wildfire support. After using the aircraft for several years of successful wildfire suppression support, Coulson retired its Mars waterbombers in 2015. Its second Mars, the Philippine Mars, will be heading to the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.

Coulson Aviation and the BC Aviation Museum will update the local and aviation community on exact arrival timing and route closer to the date so enthusiasts can witness the Hawaii Mars’ final landing and carefully planned transport to the museum.