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Bill Blanchard photo



During World War II, the Glenn L. Martin company developed two flying boats, the "Mariner" and the giant "Mars", and after the war the company would develop the last large flying boat in US service, the "Marlin".


Flying Tankers Inc. was formed in 1959 by a consortium of forest companies after experiencing several catastrophic fire seasons. The new company then purchased the remaining four of the world's only fleet of mighty Martin Mars aircraft from the US Navy.

Originally, the Martin Mars flying boats were produced for the US Navy and were used as troop and cargo transports among the islands of the Pacific. Firefighting certainly wasn't what the aircraft's manufacturer, Glenn L. Martin had in mind..... however, all four aircraft, the Marianas, Philippine, Hawaii and Caroline Mars were ferried to British Columbia where three were fitted with 7,200 gallon (27,276 litres) water tanks and converted to waterbombers!

In 1961 the Marianas Mars was destroyed while on firefighting operations and all four crew members were lost. The Caroline Mars was also destroyed while ashore by a hurricane in 1962. The two remaining aircraft, the Philippine and Hawaii Mars, have continued on to provide unsurpassed firefighting protection for thirty-seven accident free years! They have operated on hundreds of fires saving untold thousands of acres of valuable forestlands, delivering foam or water exactly where and when it is needed.

Flying Tankers operate on the philosophy of "gallons per hour". Simply stated, this means a direct assault on the fire by dropping the largest possible amount of water or gel in the shortest possible time. This philosophy, combined with the Mars excellent initial attack and outstanding ability for sustained operations are the keys to our success - they are scoopers and, working in tandem, they are able to deliver 14,000 US gallons (54,500 litres) of suppressant for the initial attack and continue delivering as much as 7,200 US gallons (27,276 litres) every seven minutes thereafter in sustained operations if needed.

Today Coulson Flying Tankers is the newest division of Coulson Aircrane Ltd. Coulson's have for many years been operating a fleet of Sikorski S61 heavy lift helicoptors, and have determined that efficiencies gained over the years have "freed up" flying time and are now able to offer Mars services which were largely restricted to the owners in previous years. In short, the Mars are spreading their 200 foot (61 meter) wingspan to provide protection on a callout service or contract basis to any company or agency requiring the unique initial attack and sustained action qualities of the Mars. NO OTHER AIRCRAFT CAN DELIVER A MASSIVE 60,000 POUND (27,216 KILOGRAM) PAYLOAD AS QUICKLY AS THE MARS AND CONTINUE TO DELIVER IT EVERY FEW MINUTES FOR SEVERAL HOURS OR UNTIL THE PROBLEM IS SOLVED.

The Coulson Flying Tankers waterbombers are located at our main base, which is situated on Sproat Lake, near Port Alberni on Vancouver Island in beautiful British Columbia.

Coulson Flying Tankers is a self-sufficient operation which employs up to 20 personnel. All maintenance tasks are carried out on base and the highly skilled technicians who maintain the aircraft are also part of the flight crews.


The Coulson Group of Companies
Corporate Offices

4890 Cherry Creek Road
Port Alberni BC, Canada V9Y - 8E9
Tel: 250.724.7600
Fax: 250.723.7766