The owner of the last two flying Martin Mars flying boats is offering a last opportunity for enthusiasts to take the controls of the massive aircraft. Coulson Air Tankers is taking reservations for two Mars “experiences” in the former Navy transports before they go to museums. Neither involve getting airborne. The Water Taxi level gets customers a walkaround and 40 minutes of blasting around Sproat Lake at the company’s home base in Port Alberni, British Columbia. The Pilot Recurrency level puts participants behind the controls of the planes for low- and high-speed taxiing on the lake after a half day of ground school and a walkaround. The accompanying video, shot during the Hawaii Mars’s visit to AirVenture 2016, gives an idea of what to expect.

The two planes, the Hawaii Mars and the Philippines Mars, are being returned to flying condition and will be flown to separate museums later this year. Hawaii Mars is taking a short hop to the BC Aviation Museum at North Saanich, B.C., while Philippine Mars will head to the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. The planes were among four that were bought by timber companies in the 1950s and converted to waterbombers. They were retired from that role in 2011. Coulson is now focused on converting former Southwest Airlines Boeing 737s into air tankers.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. They could land, ?Water? On lake Roosevelt but that’s a rather lengthy taxi to tucson.

    • I thought this as well and it is 150 miles. They have trailers to haul them out of the water for maintenance. They’d have to remove the wings and horizontal tail.