Alberni’s Mars bomber returns from Mexico

A film crew from Exploration Production Inc.

The Hawaii Mars waterbomber will return to the Alberni Valley on Friday after spending 20 days fighting fires in Mexico.

Their mission—the first time the Port Alberni-based company has worked with Mexican authorities—has been a success, Coulson Flying Tankers chief operating officer Jim Messer said.

“She performed admirably,” Messer said of the aircraft. “It’s been a really good run.”

The mobile team started operations from Lake Amistad reservoir, near Del Rio, Texas, on April 28. Since then, they’ve been flying seven hours every day.

“It’s probably the busiest contract we’ve had,” Messer said. “It went well. They were pretty impressed with how we attack fires,” he said.

Some of the challenges included high temperatures and high winds, coupled with uneven terrain. A lot of the fires had occurred between 4,000 and 6,000 feet above sea level, which affects operation of the aircraft.

The new contract with Mexico went well on a couple of fronts, he added. First off it was a great start to their season from a commercial standpoint. “They flew us hard and it made a big difference.”

It has also put them in the Mexican authorities’ focus, and Coulson has been assured they will be called upon again if their firefighting services are needed.

Messer said the crew is aware of the massive fire in northern Alberta that has destroyed one-third of the town of Slave Lake.

“I’ve been talking to Alberta Forestry,” he said. “They are aware of our situation (in Mexico). We made them aware the Mars could be up there in a couple of days (both rotor and fixed wing aircraft).”

So far they have not been tasked to go to Slave Lake. If they do, it will likely be under the auspices of the B.C. government.

The waterbomber crew will be home for a week of minor maintenance on the aircraft before it goes operational again on June 1, this time for a 90-day contract with the provincial government.

Meanwhile, the Martin Mars is gaining celebrity status in the United States, and has attracted the attention of the Discovery Channel. Exploration Production Inc. spent five or six days filming the Mars crew while they were in Mexico as part of an episode of Mighty Planes, a new spinoff to the channel’s popular Mighty Ships program.

The film team followed the Coulson air and maintenance crews around for five or six days, capturing everyday life on camera. “Everyone just dealt with it in their own way,” Messer said. “It didn’t impact the (firefighting) work that they did.”

The Discovery Channel film crew will be up in Port Alberni to wrap up filming at the end of May.

The Martin Mars episode is tentatively scheduled to air in Spring 2012, Messer said.

editor@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

Portal Players Looking for love onstage in Port Alberni

Newcomers bring fun Norm Foster play to life for short run

Alberni boys win 20th consecutive Island Wrestling Championships

Alberni District Secondary School boys finished with 69 points

Juno-nominated Indigenous hip-hop duo to play in Port Alberni

Snotty Nose Rez Kids will be at the Kingsway Pub on Saturday, Feb. 23

Coldest Night of the Year event brings attention to plight of the homeless

Port Alberni teams prepare to walk one of three routes and raise funds too

Alberni Armada girls a surprise contender at Vancouver Island high school basketball championships

The Alberni Armada senior girls’ basketball team is going somewhere they never… Continue reading

VIDEO: Canada’s flag turns 54 today

The maple leaf design by George Stanley made its first appearance Feb. 15, 1965

B.C. VIEWS: Power politics wins over rational energy policy

B.C Hydro continues to face interference on rates

PR firm suspends contract with former B.C. premier amid groping accusation

Edelman says in a statement that Campbell has served as a special adviser to the firm since last July

James says B.C. budget puts priorities on NDP’s poverty, environment plans

She said she expected the government’s poverty reduction and climate change strategies to be priorities in the budget

PHOTOS: Day 1 of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer

Games kicked off in Red Deer this week

Ammonia leak shuts down curling club in Nelson

It’s not yet clear when the leak was detected

Pavelski’s 31st goal helps Sharks top Canucks 3-2

Vancouver one point out of second NHL wild-card spot

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Most Read