Mars To Keep Toiling In Canada

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An international bid to preserve the last two remaining Martin Mars flying boats in museums in British Columbia and Maryland has failed. Instead, the massive aircraft will continue to be used as heavy-lift firefighting aircraft throughout western North America by Coulson Aircrane, which bought the aircraft from forest company TimberWest in a deal finalized Friday. Coulson is a helicopter logging and firefighting company based in the Marsí current hometown of Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. "This is a positive outcome as the water bombers will be operated by a local company that is experienced and focused on aviation firefighting," said TimberWest CEO Paul McElligott. "TimberWest takes great pride in having operated the Martin Mars over the last several years and we know that Coulson will continue that tradition." When TimberWest put the aircraft up for sale late last year, there were controversies on several fronts. British Columbia cities and towns that have watched the 64-year-old aircraft at work on wildfires near, sometimes in, their communities passed resolutions aimed at keeping the Mars in the air. Others wanted the Mars replaced with more modern aircraft. An aviation museum in Maryland, where the aircraft were built, and a group of British Columbia aviation enthusiasts were promoting a joint bid for the aircraft that would have seen one housed in the Maryland museum and another in a museum built on the site of their current home base on Sproat Lake. The deal with Coulson included the Sproat Lake base, facilities, spares and infrastructure, and the aircraft will likely stay where they are.