British Columbia Aviation Museum Acquires Iconic Hawaii Mars

The Hawaii Martin Mars’s final flight is expected before the end of 2024 and will be a multi-phased process that includes passing federal inspections, crew training and test flights.

A serene giant, the Hawaii Mars floats on Sproat Lake. The proud aerial fire-fighter is possibly nearing the end of her flying days, but she still has great potential for further operations. (photo by Rob Frolic)
Aircorps Art Dec 2019

After more than two years of negotiations, and hard work by both museum volunteers and Coulson Aviation – Next Gen Firefighting, on March 30th, the British Columbia Aviation Museum announced the acquisition of the famous Hawaii Mars. Operated by Coulson Aviation Group, the Hawaii Mars flew from 1961 to 2015 in North America fighting over 4,000 wildfires with its massive water-dropping ability that could end a huge blaze in a single pass. These enormous red and white aircraft captured the hearts of British Columbians for how they saved BC forests, this is the main reason the British Columbia Aviation Museum, with the help of the province of British Columbia, decided to acquire iconic  US NAVY WWII aircraft.
Hawaii Mars entering the water yesterday to begin preparations for the Ultimate Flying Experience as well as her upcoming trip to Oshkosh, Wisconsin for EAA AirVenture 2016. (photo by Rob Frolic)

After the current owners, Coulson Aviation Group, retired their Mars fleet several years ago, the BC Aviation Museum began discussions with the owners, the intention being for the iconic Mars to become the signature display in the museum’s growing British Columbia wildfire aviation exhibit. Discussions are still ongoing. When the donation is successfully concluded, the museum has exciting new upgrades planned to further enhance the visitor experience.

As reported by the Time Colonist, Lana Popham, minister of tourism, and Josie Osborne, MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim, will gather with representatives from the B.C. Aviation Museum and Coulson Aviation to make the announcement and tour the Hawaii Martin Mars water bomber. The announcement is also expected to include preparations to get the big plane airworthy and other logistics for the move, including assembling the necessary pilots, engineers, and other specialized crew.

Mosdell said Wednesday that tentative plans will see the Hawaii Mars make its last flight in the fall from Sproat Lake down the east coast of the Island. A flight plan would be issued in advance so thousands of people who have come to know the plane can witness the flight along the route and its landing on the waters of Patricia Bay on the Saanich Peninsula.

Nothing compared to the Coulson Aviation’s magnificent Martin Mars for shear spectacle though… It was a glorious thing to see in flight… (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)

Time Colonist also reports that the final flight of the Hawaii Martin Mars water bomber is getting a $250,000 boost from the provincial government as the iconic firefighting aircraft travels from Sproat Lake to the B.C. Aviation Museum in North Saanich. The aircraft will be brought up on a ramp at Canadian Coast Guard Base Patricia Bay, a former seaplane port, mounted on a trailer in a swivelling cradle and transported across Victoria International Airport runways.

Hawaii Mars and Philippine Mars at Sproat Lake, 2014

A flight plan is expected to be heavily publicized so people along the route will be able to see the plane fly a last time. The museum is raising funds to build a new hangar to house the Martin Mars Hawaii and other B.C. firefighting aircraft on land donated by the Victoria Airport Authority. The new exhibit will be interactive, inviting visitors to explore the features of the aircraft up close.

The British ColumbiaAviation Museum celebrates the past, present, and future of BC aviation with one of the largest aviation collections in Canada. Visitors of all ages will be amazed by our interactive experiences. For more information and to support this effort, visit

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