International Bid For Martin Mars Aircraft

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An international effort has emerged to ensure that the last two Martin Mars flying boats can be enjoyed by generations of aviation buffs to come. The massive aircraft, which have had a spectacularly successful career as air tankers for the past 40 years, would become museum pieces at opposite ends of the continent under an arrangement reached between the British Columbia Aviation Council and the Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum. The two groups are jointly bidding for the aircraft, which were built at the site of the museum in Middle River, Md. The plan is to fly one of the aircraft for display in Maryland and leave the other at its existing base on Sproat Lake, near Port Alberni, B.C. Although it's estimated the Mars have another 10 years of useful flying life left in them, the BCAC and the museum say that will expose them to wear and tear and risk that could diminish or destroy their heritage value. With the advent of more modern aerial tankers and techniques, the future usefulness of the Mars is also being questioned, although it must be noted that a single drop of more than 6,000 gallons can drench four acres of burning bush. Both the museum and the BCAC have launched fundraising campaigns to support their bids for the aircraft, which are now owned by TimberWest Forest Corp.