Your Chance to Fly a Massive Martin Mars World War II Aircraft

Martin Mars water bomber Source: Kevstan

A company on Vancouver Island is providing a rare opportunity to fly the world’s largest water bomber, the World War II-era Martin Mars.

The Ultimate Aviation Experience is a short course lasting two days. Included in the $25,000 USD price is time in the cockpit of one of only two Martin Mars left in the world. Several were built for use in World War II. The company offering this opportunity is Coulson Aviation. It owns the only two Martin Mars Aircraft still in existence.

Wayne Coulson is CEO and President of Coulson Aviation. He’s long been asked by aviation enthusiasts for the opportunity to fly the Martins. “It’s a way to offset some of the costs, because of course they are very expensive to keep air-worthy, and we thought this might be the last year,” said Coulson.

“The Martin Mars aircraft, holders of numerous world records, are truly amazing pieces of WW2 history, as they are the largest aircraft ever built.  Before the fleet is retired, Coulson Aviation is offering Aviation enthusiasts a chance to fly one of these incredible pieces of aviation history.”

Coulson is modernizing his fleet and looking for homes for the aircraft. “There will never be an aircraft built that will have flown and dropped more water on wildfires over their five-decade history,” said Coulson. “They were the anchor of the B.C. government firefighting program until released from service.”

The province’s contract with Coulson Group ended in 2013. The Martin Mars made a brief return from retirement help put out the hundreds of wildfires burning last summer.

The Martin JRM Mars is a large, four-engined cargo transport seaplane originally designed and built in limited numbers for the U.S. Navy during the World War II era. It was the largest Allied flying boat to enter production, although only seven were built. The United States Navy contracted the development of the XPB2M-1 Mars in 1938 as a long-range ocean patrol flying boat, which later entered production as the JRM Mars long range transport.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE