The Martin Mars Waterbomber as it sits at anchor in Vancouver Harbour
For a Wednesday, today kicked ass. Well for me it did anyway. It began with an early morning call to go and cover a quick shoot at a school. Interesting subject matter, kids and gangs. I figured that this would be my fate for the day, but when the item got down graded to a VSV, it enabled me to team up with Kink on another assignment. And what a gem it was.
Kink and I have worked many stories from the air aboard CTV Chopper 9. One of our favorites from the sky are forest fires. We have done many over the years. From the air they can be very visual and when we happen to share the skies with the world's largest water scooping tanker, there is always excitement in our aircraft.
Today, we got to do one of those cool things that most never get to experience. We both boarded and were given an inside look at the mighty Martin Mars Water Bomber. This second world war era flying boat, originally designed as weapon against Japan, had been converted for fire fighting after wars end. There are only 2 left on the planet and they both are based in British Columbia, owned and operated by Coulson Avaition. It was a particular thrill for me, as I have shot this massive aircraft fighting fires on several occasions from my seat aboard Chopper 9. ( See "Best Laid Plans")
This particular Martin Mars is called the "Hawaii Mars". It is the same plane that some of you may have seen fighting fires in California this past fall. To see this vintage machine drop her load never gets tired. It scoops a full load skimming along a waterway, in just 25 seconds. When over a fire, she can drop enough water out of her belly to soak 4 acres in just a single pass. She may be old, but she is very capable.
The Mars is in Vancouver for a Forestry trade show. It is believed that this is the first time either "Hawaii" or her sister "Philippine Mars" has ever touched down in Vancouver Harbour. It certainly drew a large crowd on the pier to see her drop a load into the harbour.
To have been given a look inside, and to have spoken to the crew that keeps her airworthy was indeed a privilege and coupled with a phone conversation I had with a special person back east, it made for a KICK ASS DAY.