Wayne Coulson

Coulsons upgrade their firefighting fleet

No solution yet for keeping the Hawaii Mars in Alberni, said Coulson.

Coulson Aviation USA—the American operating arm of the Port Alberni-based Coulson Group of Companies—showed off their newest acquisition at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport on Sunday, Nov. 16. The C-130 Hercules was on display for the public from 1-3 p.m. that afternoon and will be flown to Australia on Dec. 3.

The planes are unique because Coulson Aviation USA hold a patent on the water holding tanks.

According to Britt Coulson, the C-130 on display holds 3,500 gallons and another modified firefighting C-130 tanker under construction will hold 4,000 gallons.

“Our second C-130 is getting that [4,000 gallon] tank installed right now in Singapore,” said Britt, adding that the plane will come back to the Alberni Valley Regional Airport in February.

While the Coulsons’ goal is to use the C-130s as water tankers, the planes have removable tanks should they be needed for other purposes.

“If there was a requirement for somebody to just move freight or cargo… the tank wheels bolt on and then in about half an hour for two or three guys the tank just rolls right back down the ramp and you’re back to a fully unrestricted C-130. We’re the only ones in the world with that.”

While the C-130 drew a huge crowd, the fate of the biggest aviation attraction in the Alberni Valley hasn’t yet been decided. Wayne Coulson said that earlier on they had tried to trade the Hawaii Mars waterbomber for the C-130.

“We tried, we were working with the federal government to see if we would be able to do that but it didn’t go very far.”

The trade is complicated by the C-130s being American ex-military planes.

“It’s probably not in the realm of possibility,” he said, adding that the planes’ ex-military status “makes them a lot harder to bring into the country. We’re a U.S. registered aircraft and we don’t have registration for it in Canada, so I couldn’t operate this aircraft in Canada but I could in the United States or Australia.”

As far as other initiatives to keep the Hawaii Mars in Alberni, Wayne hasn’t seen many promising ideas.

“There was a movement to keep [the Hawaii Mars] in Alberni but of course the challenge there is the cost of keeping it and where do you put it and all those things.”

Even if the community was able to purchase the plane and had a place to display it, upkeep would be another challenge.

“Because of its age and it’s got fabric flight surfaces a lot of damage can happen. Keeping the aircraft in a serviceable state where it’s not going to deteriorate too bad is the key.”

While the Hawaii Mars awaits a decision, the Philippine Mars has already been acquired by a Florida museum and will be flown down there sometime in March or April.

“We’ll have a celebration before we turn it loose.”

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

twitter.com/alberninews

Just Posted

Alberni residents petition for walkway

Process is needed for council requests: Sharie Minions

Crash on Highway 4 causes backup between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Traffic between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni has slowed to a crawl… Continue reading

Incoming storm prompts extreme wave advisory at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Flooded beaches, floating logs and hazardous surf conditions expected.

Someone from Port Alberni is a lottery winner

Someone who purchased a BC/49 ticket in Port Alberni is $75,000 richer… Continue reading

Port Alberni Black Sheep see signs of strength in rebuilding year

Head coach Jas Purewal encouraged by new players, deeper bench

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

10,000 signatures gained to stop ‘no pets’ rental policy

Pets OK BC said about 1,700 animals were surrendered to the BC SPCA last year due to housing issues

Police on motorcycles tap on windows of distracted drivers in Nanaimo

Nanaimo RCMP Supt. Cameron Miller says a police motorcycle has been effective in enforcement

Silver Creek reacts after remains found, man arrested

Neighbours of property where remains were found say man arrested was sweet and polite

VIDEO: Oprah Winfrey and a celebrities attend ‘B.C. Miracle Concert’

Fundraiser featured Foster, Steven Tyler, The Tenors, Matteo Bocelli, Laura Bretan, Carly Rae Jepsen

Human remains found at Silver Creek property

RCMP have been searching the property in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road for the past three days

New B.C. acute care centre opens for young patients, expectant mothers

Facility aims to make B.C. Children’s Hospital visits more comfortable

Search ramps up for B.C. woman after dog, car found near Ashcroft

Jenny Lynn Larocque’s vehicle and dog were found in Venables Valley, but there is no sign of her

Police officer hit by car, stabbed in Edmonton attack back on job

Const. Mike Chernyk, 48, returned to work Thursday

Most Read