Despite the pleas of people who love to see the aircraft in the air, the iconic Martin Mars aerial firefighting tanker has not been sent to Fort McMurray, AB to fight a fire that has forced evacuation of all 88,000 residents.
Wayne Coulson, owner of Coulson Aviation and the Coulson Flying Tanker, says there are a couple of good reasons for that. Because of the public interest in the aircraft, Coulson took to Facebook on Thursday (May 5, 2016) and posted a message on the Martin MARS – Coulson Flying Tankers page to explain what the company is doing to assist in Fort McMurray.
They’ve already sent a Sikorsky S-61 helicopter, and will offer a second when it returns from Australia. Coulson has also offered one of his C-130s to the Alberta government, and has put his crew on standby just in case the government asks for that plane.
The Mars is undergoing its annual inspection, and Coulson said earlier this year that its firefighting days are likely over. He plans to bring the Mars to a large American airshow in Oshkosh, WI in July to drum up business.
“Secondly, in the firefighting business it is the government that has operational control of the aircraft,” Coulson wrote.
“No aircraft operator in the world can simply go and put out a fire, even if they wanted to and if someone ever did, they would be facing serious criminal charges.”
The fire at this point is too hot to attack by air, according to Alberta emergency officials quoted in a CBC story on the fire. On Tuesday, the heat at the fire’s front was too hot — estimates had the temperature between 800 and 1,000 degrees Celsius — and too smoky for planes to fly, according to officials.
“We understand the frustration of the public, especially in a case like this where a fire is consuming property and threatening lives,” Coulson wrote in his post. “We are committed to supporting government agencies, firefighters and the public when our services are required.”