Martin Mars Water Bombers sold to local Vancouver Island company

    VANCOUVER, April 13 /CNW/ - Ownership of the Martin Mars Water Bombers
will be staying in local hands, as TimberWest Forest Corp. has reached an
agreement to sell the historic water bombers to Coulson Aircrane Ltd. of Port
    The announcement was made today by Paul McElligott, TimberWest President
and CEO, and Wayne Coulson, President and CEO of Coulson Group of Companies.
    "We are very pleased to have reached this agreement to sell the Martin
Mars," said McElligott. "This is a positive outcome as the water bombers will
be operated by a local company that is experienced and focussed on aviation
firefighting. TimberWest takes great pride in having operated the Martin Mars
over the last several years and we know that Coulson will continue that
    "Coulson Aircrane has a strong expertise in aerial firefighting and the
addition of the Martin Mars aircraft strengthens our capacity to provide this
service," said Coulson. "These are well maintained, safe aircraft, which we
look forward to operating for many years to come."
    Terms of the purchase agreement are confidential, but involve the
purchase of the water bombers and supporting infrastructure, including spare
engines, parts and other equipment.
    "As part of the purchase agreement, one of the planes will be made
available to Port Alberni upon retirement for use as a heritage attraction.
This was a condition of the sale and reflects the commitment we made to the
people of Port Alberni and our support for local communities," added
    The Martin Mars Water Bombers, initially conceived as military bombers,
have been providing firefighting services in British Columbia for over 40
accident-free years. They are based in Sproat Lake, near Port Alberni on
Vancouver Island, and were originally operated by a consortium of partners,
including TimberWest. However, for the last five years, TimberWest has been
the sole operator.

    -   A total of five Martin Mars aircraft were built in Baltimore,
        Maryland in 1942-43.

    -   They were originally conceived as a military bomber for long-range
        mission and patrols.

    -   The planes were redesigned and classified for long-range general
        transportation because of their demonstrated heavy lift capability.

    -   In 1959, a consortium of British Columbia coastal forest companies
        formed Forest Industries Flying Tankers Limited, which then purchased
        the remaining aircraft and converted them to water bombers.

    -   Two of the aircraft have continued to operate since 1959, providing
        unsurpassed firefighting protection services to British Columbia's
        coast and interior and, as required, to neighbouring jurisdictions in
        Alberta, Washington State, Oregon and California.

    -   The planes are operated by a crew of four, including a captain, first
        officer and two flight engineers.

    -   Each plane can hold over 27,000 litres (7,200 U.S. gallons) of
        water/foam load, enough to cover three to four acres in a single
        drop. The planes have the capability to use fresh or ocean water.

    -   It takes the aircraft a skimming distance of about two kilometres to
        pick up a load of water. They can operate from a body of water as
        small as six kilometres depending on surrounding topography and other
        approach and departure requirements.

    -   Both aircraft have the capability to drop either straight water or
        water mixed with foam onto fires. In 2005, one of the aircraft was
        also fitted with long-term suppressant.

    -   Once the planes are airborne, foam concentrate is injected into the
        water load at a ratio of 30 U.S. gallons into the 7,200 U.S. gallon
        water load.

    -   Once dropped, the tumbling action causes aeration which converts the
        water load into a foam load, a process repeated for each drop.

    -   The planes are housed at Sproat Lake on Vancouver Island, but have
        the capability to operate for extended periods away from their base.

For further information:

For further information: Steve Lorimer, TimberWest Forest Corp.,
Manager, Public Affairs & Government Relations, Telephone: (250) 729-3727,

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