GREATER VANCOUVER &
VANCOUVER ISLAND, B.C.
-SEP. 2010-
We flew into Vancouver IAP and spent a little time in the area. We also crossed by ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, Vancouver Island, and spent time in Victoria, Tofino and Campbell River.
While this trip focussed mainly on visiting friends and non-aviation related interests, there was time to explore aviation locations as well. With an unexpected bonus: a flight in a DHC-2 Beaver!

The background of this webpage has a map drawing which shows most of the area we travelled; it is from a book by Jim Spilsbury about his airline Queen Charlotte Airways (QCA, see wikipedia). A 3rd book by him is a picture book featuring also many photos taken by Jim, an avid photographer, of his personal life and career. Recommended reading, also for 'understanding' the people living in this area.
 

 

Vancouver - Coal harbour Seaplane Base
At Vancouver Coal Harbour Seaplane Base, B.C. 04Sep10
After a visit to Vancouver's Museum of Anthropology (MoA), I was heading back for the motel when it occurred to me this Seaplane base was almost on the way. However, it is a little difficult to park your car in the area, and I found myself time restricted by the amount of coins I had for the parking meter.
vancouver Seaplane base
DHC-2 C-FAOP (c/n 1249) of Salt Spring Island Air Ltd seen arriving.
DHC-3 and DHC-2
DHC-3T C-GHAS leads the way for DHC-2 C-FAOP.
vancouver Seaplane base
DHC-3 Turbine Otter C-GHAS (c/n 284) of Harbour Air.
Vancouver Seaplane Base
de Havilland Beaver C-FOCY c/n 79 of Harbour Air.
DHC-6 Twin Otter
Twin Otter C-GQKN c/n 94 of Westcoast Air
DHC-3T C-GLCP
DHC-3T C-GLCP c/n 433 of Harbour Air
DHC-3T Turbine Otter
de Havilland DHC-3T Otter C-GLCP (c/n 433) Harbour Air. Flying special red colours depicting the national flag.

In 2006 I had been here too, wielding my camera, for those pictures see HERE..

 

 

Langley's Canadian Museum of Flight
On 07Sep10 a visit was made to Langley's Canadian Museum of Flight. This was actually a revisit as I had been here in 2006. A page dedicated to this visit will follow later.

 

 

VICTORIA AP- SIDNEY, B.C.

08SEP2010. As soon as we disembarked from the ferry I made my way to the airport of Victoria. I came to Viking Air and had a look over the high fence, noticed these two turbo DHC-3 Otters. There was also a DHC-6-400, which Viking Air is manufacturing; they asked me not to take pictures of that one, C-GLVA, though they also made it clear they could not forbid it - I respected their request.

Below information was copied from Karl E. Hayes' work on the DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter; I've edited the information to make it more comprehensive. HERE you'll find how to obtain a copy of the DHC-3 Otter monograph on CD-Rom.

Viking at Victoria,B.C.DHC-3 Otter c/n 59 was delivered to the RCAF on 17Dec1954 with serial 3692. It went initially to No.6 Repair Depot, Trenton for storage as a reserve aircraft, being allocated in July 1955 to 102 Communications & Rescue Unit at Trenton. It returned to DeHavilland Canada at Downsview in March 1956 for incorporation of All Up Weight modifications and on completion of the work in September 1956 was
loaned by the RCAF to DHC for experimental purposes, based at Downsview.
3692 became known as 'The Quiet Otter', having been modified by DHC in May 1957 to see how quietly an Otter could be made to fly!
The modification is described well by Sean Rossiter in his book 'Otter and Twin Otter'. [quote from the book removed- Webmaster]
Tests were conducted at Downsview and also at Patuxent River NAS, Maryland.

Upon completion of the trials, the Otter was returned to standard configuration, and in June 1959
went back into storage with 6 Repair Depot.
In April 1960 it was made ready for its next assignment, requiring the work of three men for a week to prepare it. It flew north to Goose Bay where it joined the Station Flight on 04May60.
3692 remained at Goose until 19Dec60 when it flew to Greenwood, Nova Scotia for its next posting, with 103 Rescue Unit.
It returned to 6 Repair Depot in October 1962 and remained in storage until March 1965 when it was allocated to 438 Squadron, St.Hubert, Montreal where it was to serve for the next 16 years.

During its long service with 438 Squadron two minor incidents were recorded. On 16th April 1966
while conducting an aerial reconnaissance sortie, the pilot flew into trees, resulting in C-category
damage to the starboard wing and both landing gear struts. The damage was repaired.
Years later, on 11Feb79, there was another incident in the course of a cross-country navigation training flight. During the flight, a vehicle was observed on a lake and it appeared to be in difficulty. The pilot descended to 50 feet to see if any assistance was required. Once by the vehicle, as the aircraft was flown between an island and a point on the mainland over the lake, a small 'bang' was heard, followed by a whine. A slight lurch was felt and a wire was observed trailing three feet behind the right wing... The Otter recovered safely to base.

3692 continued in service with 438 Squadron and in its last years of service it was a 'VIP Otter', plushly outfitted with sofas and the like!
It was withdrawn from service during 1981 and flown to the Mountain View Storage Depot, where it was one of 18 Otters put up for disposal by the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation. It was one of 12 Otters put up for sale in February 1982, advertised as having total airframe time of 7,752 hours.
It did not sell, and was included as one of the final 7 Otters put up for sale in September 1982. The purchaser was Newcal Aviation Inc of Little Ferry, New Jersey, a company which specialises in supplying parts for DHC aircraft.N2634Y at Friday Harbour 14Jun99 It purchased seven of the 18 Otters sold by Crown Assets. 3692 was registered to Newcal Aviation Inc as N2634Y in Jan83 and along with the other 6 they purchased, was flown from Mountain View to a small grass airfield near Decatur,TX where all 7 were tied down out in the open and put up for sale.

These Otters were to languish in the open at Decatur for some years. However, they were all eventually sold,
including N2634Y, which was purchased by Aeronautical Services Inc of Friday Harbour,WA in Oct87.

The company's pilot arrived at Decatur to collect the new acquisition, which looked somewhat the worse for wear after its five years under the Texan sun and rain. Some of the others were in worse shape. Having been exposed to severe winds, they had been so rocked that both wingtips were bent!
The pilot managed to get N2634Y started and it performed well on the 16 hour ferry flight from Decatur, to
Friday Harbour. It was later flown the 20 miles or so across the water to Sidney,BC on Vancouver Island where Victoria Air Maintenance gave it a complete overhaul, taking out the plush sofas and old, heavy military radios and converting the Otter into an efficient freighter.
It was also painted in Aeronautical Services attractive blue colour scheme, this work being completed in April
1988.

While at Sidney, the Otter was registered to Victoria Air Maintenance as C-FBNI, as the Canadian Dept of Transport had to certify the work done on the aircraft, but would not inspect an American registered aircraft. Accordingly, it was Canadian registered for the occasion, performed its test flight as such, once around the circuit at Sidney and then reverted to N2634Y, entering service as such with Aeronautical Services that month!

It joined Aeronautical Services other two Otters N98T (181) and N357AS (357), servicing a UPS contract flying small packages around the San Juan Islands, an archipelago to the northwest of Seattle, between mainland Washington State and Canada's Vancouver Island.
On rare occasions, all three Otters flew together in formation, which certainly was some sight and sound.
The last time this occurred however was a sad affair...
The company's president had been killed in the crash of a Beech Bonanza in October 1992 and during the memorial ceremonies at Friday Harbour, all 3 Otters flew overhead in a formation tribute.

N98T was sold in June 1993 but throughout the decade of the 1990s N357AS and N2634Y maintained the unique UPS Otter service.
The pattern of operation was for the Otters to overnight at the Bayview/Skagit Airport near Burlington on the mainland. Here each weekday morning the two Otters were loaded with UPS cargo brought in by truck, and they took off around 0730 hours, arriving at Friday Harbour 30 minutes later.
The two Otters usually flew over together and sometimes advised air traffic control that they were a 'twin Otter' flight! On arrival at Friday Harbour, which is located on San Juan Island itself, the cargo destined for that island was unloaded and delivered around the island by truck. The two Otters then departed on separate circuits around the other islands, distributing the packages they had brought in and collecting outgoing cargo for delivery to the mainland. The Otters arrived back at Friday Harbour around midday and remained there until 14:20 in the afternoon. By that stage the outgoing cargo from San Juan Island had been collected by the trucks and was loaded aboard the Otters, which then returned to Bayview/Skagit on the mainland. From there the cargo was trucked down to Seattle and entered the UPS mainline system. The two Otters remained at Bayview until the next morning, and then repeated the process all over again.

By 21Sep99 N2634Y had increased its total airframe time to 13,165 hours.

An incident was recorded on 03May2000, as reported in the San Juan Islander newspaper: "An
Aeronautical Services plane made an impromptu landing in a field of potatoes near Bayview Airport,
Skagit County the morning of Tuesday, May 3rd. The single-engine Otter loaded with UPS packages,
popped a cylinder after leaving the airport at 10 a.m. The engine started losing power, so the pilot
turned the plane around and headed back toward the airport. Fearing the laden aircraft might not
make it back to Bayview, the pilot landed the plane in a tater patch.
The plane was not damaged
."
Otters are equipped with large wheels that enable them to land on bumpy ground. Aeronautical
emptied the plane of freight and flew over a mechanic who installed a new cylinder. The Otter was
back in service the next day.

The Otter continued its use until Nov. 2000 by which stage the unique cargo Otter operation of Aeronautical Services was coming to an end. The growth in cargo had exceeded even the Otter's capacity by that stage and a revised pattern of distribution saw the cargo move around the islands by large trucks on the ferries.

N2634Y was sold to Time Tool Inc of Hillsboro,OR. It made the short flight to Sidney,B.C. where Viking Air put the Otter on floats and overhauled the aircraft for its new owners, to whom it was registered on 08Feb01. The new owners had premises on an island in the San Juans, the Otter being acquired as a means of transport to the island. It was not long however before the Otter was sold on to Viking Air Ltd of Victoria/Sidney, BC on Vancouver Island, intended for conversion as their third turbine Otter.

The Otter was not immediately required for this purpose and was accordingly leased to Points North Air Services Inc of La Ronge, Saskatchewan as C-GIWQ on 31May01.
It flew for them on floats until returned off lease to Viking Air. It was noted at Victoria in Jul02 with the fuselage detached from the wings at Viking Air's facility.
At the 'DHC Out-of-Production Aircraft Conference' held at Victoria between 18th and 20th Oct. 2002, hosted by Viking Air, which also celebrated the Otter's 50th anniversary, C-GIWQ occupied pride of place, suspended from the ceiling of Viking's hangar, above the delegates attending the conference.
It still carried the Aeronautical Services colourscheme.
It remained in storage after the conference, awaiting turbine conversion. It was still in storage in Victoria in December 2004 and in 2007 was reported to be intended for future conversion to a Viking Turbo Otter.

As the photo shows it seems that sometime after 01Jan08 C-GIWQ has been reconfigured to a Viking Turbo Otter, but hasn't made its way to another operator yet. It is also back on wheels.
The registration C-GIWQ has been cancelled on 06Dec01.

Viking at Victoria,B.C.DHC-3 Otter c/n 385 was delivered to the United States Army on 22Aug1960 with serial 59-2230 (tailnumber 92230). It had been fitted with radios suitable for an overseas deployment, was shipped to Libya where it arrived at Wheelus Air Base, Tripoli in April 1961, where it was re-assembled. Its first operating unit was the Army's 572nd Engineer Platoon and flown as a survey aircraft on mapping duties initially in Libya and later in Iran.
It was painted in the white/red colour scheme used by topographical aircraft and continued to fly for this unit until Apr69, when it arrived at Coleman Barracks, Mannheim, Germany for overhaul.
There it was repainted into the olive drab colour scheme and in Aug69 was assigned to the 56th Aviation Detachment at Coleman Barracks, and flew for this unit until August 1971, when it was placed into storage at Coleman Barracks and put up for disposal.

92230 was one of 8 Army Otters, all in storage at Coleman Barracks, which were put up for
sale. The successful bidder for all 8 Otters was Ferrer Aviation Inc of Miami. The total price for all 8 aircraft was $303,640 of which $39,680 was the price for 92230, which had 3,177 hours on the airframe at the time of sale.

92230 was allocated marks N80945 for Ferrer Aviation, who contracted ferry company Air Convoy to fly the 8 Otters to Canada. At Shannon, ferry tanks were installed by SRS Aviation.

The Otters were flown to St.Jean Airport,Montreal where they were converted to civilian aircraft by St.Louis Aviation Inc.
C/n 385 was then sold to White River Air Services Ltd of White River,Ont. registered CF-DNK, later re-registered C-FDNK.
In June 1975 it was sold to Kipawa Air Service Inc of Kipawa,Que. which was later renamed Air Kipawa Inc. The Otter was used on charter work throughout the Province of Quebec. Apart from fishing and hunting charters, it was also much used in the north by Quebec Hydro and Societe d'Energie de la Baie James. By June 1980 it had flown 8,122 hours.
One incident was recorded, on 25Sep88, when the Otter was flying on behalf of Cargair, 24 miles north-west of Schefferville. DNK made a forced landing due to engine trouble. The pilot found that he could not maintain a sufficient rate of climb in a turn and had to put the aircraft down.

Between August 1989 and August 1990 the Otter was operated by and registered to Air North Bay Inc of North Bay,Ont. before reverting to Air Kipawa Inc.
The Otter continued in operation with Air Kipawa until the end of the summer 2004 season, and was then sold to Viking Air where it was to be completely retrofitted with a turbine engine and many other amenities. It had served Air Kipawa for nearly 30 years.
The Otter departed Kipawa on 13Oct04, making its first stop at Sioux Lookout,Ont. on the long trek to the West Coast.
It was reregistered to Viking Air Ltd of Victoria, BC on 26Nov04. During Dec. 04 it commenced conversion to Viking Turbo Otter configuration with a PT6A-35 engine.

Its first flight from Victoria as a turbine Otter was made during July 2005. It finished its flight test programme prior to Christmas 2005 and during 2006 was awaiting final official certification of the Viking Turbo Otter conversion.
In March 2007 it was advertised as a Viking Turbo Otter with new PT6A-35 engine, Hartzell three-blade prop, Panaview windows, 15 seats, Seaflight 8100 floats, new 21 paint and interior, with an asking price of $1,350,000. Total time was 18,151 hours. But by August 2007 it had been withdrawn from sale and was then on offer for lease, at an hourly rate of $275 per flight hour plus engine reserve of $55 per flight hour, with
a minimum lease of 700 hours.

The photo shows it without titles and actually, anno Nov.2010, the Transport Canada website shows C-FDNK as a piston DHC-3 Otter, registered since 26Nov04 to Viking Air Ltd.

 

 

VICTORIA - HARBOUR (INNER HARBOR)

On 09SEP10 we drove into Victoria and on our way to a whale watching trip I allowed myself a few minutes at the Inner Harbor Seaplane base (CXH/CYHC). I would have loved to have spent more time here, but a sport injury restricted my walking abilities and I had my sights set on a 3-day visit to Tofino.

Whales are common in the area but usually they stay out of the harbour. At some point a whale got a little adventurous and ventured into the harbour, into that body of water you see in the background on the photo below. The same water these seaplanes use to land and take off from.
So Victoria - Harbour Airport can claim to be the only airport in the world that has been closed due to whales on the runway..!

Victoria B.C. - Inner Harbor Spb
de Havilland DHC-3T Otter C-FRNO (c/n 21) of Harbour Air
and DHC-6-100 Twin Otter C-GQKN (c/n 94) of Westcoast Air.

Victoria, B.C. - Inner Harvor Spb
C-GQKN was reg'd to
Westcoast Air on 19JUL08.
Victoria, B.C. - Inner Harvor Spb
C-GUTW (c/n 405) reg'd to
Harbour Air 14JUN91
Victoria, B.C. - Inner Harvor Spb
C-GHAR (c/n 42) reg'd to
Harbour Air 19JAN06
Victoria, BC - Inner Harbor Spb
Victoria, B.C. - Inner Harvor Spb
DHC-6-100 C-FGQE (c/n 40)
reg'd Westcoast Air 26Feb92
Victoria, B.C. - Westcoast Air
DHC-6-100 C-FGQH (c/n 106)
reg'd to Westcoast Air 22Apr03
DHC-6 twin Otter - Westcoast Air
DHC-6-100 C-FMHR (c/n 51)
reg'd to Westcoast Air 23May2000
 

 

NANAIMO AIRPORT, B.C.
Consolidated catalina / Canso at Nanaimo

The following day we set out for Tofino; the weather had turned to overcast with occasional rain. In these conditions we arrived at Nanaimo, fortunately during a dry spell. During my previous visit here, in 1999, there had been two Cansos languishing here, but now only C-FNJB (c/n CV-249) remained (for the time being, see 'update' below).

Canso CV-249 was by the military, RCAF, with serial 9815 and found its way to the civil registry as CF-NJB. It is still seen in the livery of its use as an airtanker by the Province of Saskatchewan-Air Transportation Services,of Saskatchewan.
Tanker 9 was reported during 1997 as stored at St.Thomas,Ont. and offered for sale by owners Hicks&Lawrence Ltd (with CV-283). A sale was reported to a Malaysian owner, with plans to operate in Zimbabwe on luxury flights; the 1.800 liters watertank was to be removed and 12 Lockheed L.1011 Tristar seats were to be installed. Unfortunately, this deal fell through.
C-FNJF (CV-283) did get away, but as recent as 2004, when it flew to England and was registered G-PBYA for Donald Ross McEwen.

Dirk Septer wrote an article about these 'Yellow Birds' in the second last issue of Aviation Canada, previously known as Aviation Quarterly before they ceased publication early in 2006: HERE in .pdf format.

Update: C-FNJB was acquired by Evergreen for their McMinnville museum (Nov.2010) and sighted late august at Evergreen's yard in McMinnville,OR. C-FNJB was reregistered N249SB for Michael King Smith Foundation, McMinnville,OR on 13Jun2011.

In 2012 I found it at its new home: Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum (McMinnvile,OR)

Canso C-FNJB at Nanaimo,B.C.
C-GYAK is a Polish-manufactured Pezetel PZL-101
Catalina C-FNJB at Nanaimo,BC
Will C-FNJB awaiting a better future.

 

 


Nanaimo Seaplane base, 10SEP10.
Nanaimo,BC - Seaplane Base
De Havilland DHC-3T C-GHAS

DHC-3 Otter c/n 284 was delivered to the United States Army on 05Sep1958 with serial 57-6136 (tail number 76136). It was delivered from Downsview to Fort Hood,TX, one of 4 Otters delivered around this time to the 2nd Missile Command, which subsequently moved to Fort Carson, Colorado.
The Otter served there until Sep59, then being re-assigned to the 57th Aviation Company at Fort Sill,OK.
By Jan62 it was attached to the Headquarters Company, 15th Military Intelligence Battalion at Fort Bragg, but spent some of its time at Fort Huachuca,AZ. In Oct63 it joined the Aviation Section at Fort Ord, CA and the following month it joined the 17th Aviation Company at Fort Ord and then in June 1964 the Otter Transition School at Fort Ord.
It continued to serve there until the School was closed and in Aug71 transferred to the US Army Aviation School at Fort Rucker,AL. The School came under the United States Army Aviation School Command (USAASC) and was based at Cairns AAF, Fort Rucker and as well as the Otter also flew the Beaver, Beech U-21A and T-42 Baron. The Otter continued in service with the School until 29th March 1972, on which date it was handed over to the US Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker.

76136 was put on display at the Museum and remained as an exhibit until 1993, when it was decided to sell the aircraft, and replace it as the museum exhibit with Otter 76135 (c/n 283), which was then in storage at Fort Rucker. 76136 was advertised for sale, and sold to Sound Flight Inc of Renton Airport, Seattle,WA to whom it was registered N84SF in Jun94.
It was converted to a Vazar turbine Otter and modified with large panoramic windows, the first such conversion. For the next 8 years, it flew from Renton as a floatplane, on scheduled and charter work along the Pacific coast. Sound Flight Inc operated scheduled services to Victoria on Vancouver Island, to the San Juan Islands and to points along the Inside Passage, during the summer months, using either the Otter or one of its Beavers. It also flew charters in those areas. During the summer months, the Otter was heavily tasked, flying fishermen to lodges. During the first few years of its operation by Sound Flight, the Otter deployed to De Land,FL during the winter, where it was used for skydiving, which helped pay for its keep. In more recent years, it was stored at Renton each winter.

In 2001, the owners of Sound Flight Inc decided to close down the business and instead lease out their aircraft. The Otter was transferred to Airlease Inc, Renton on 05Mar02 and then leased to Transwest Air for the summer of 2002, being registered C-FADW to Transwest Air Ltd Partnership, Prince Albert,SAS on 30May02.
It remained in Sound Flight colours during this lease, and was based at Hatchet Lake in the north-east of Saskatchewan, serving a fishing lodge.
It passed through Vancouver on 14Oct02 returning to the lessor.
It was then reregistered to Airlease Inc as N84SF on 19Feb03, being sold on the following month to Harbour Air Ltd of Vancouver, registered C-GHAS on 24Mar03. It was re-painted into the Harbour Air colour scheme and entered service as part of their large fleet of turbine Otters on their commuter services.

Westcoast Air departing Nanaimo Spb
De Havilland DHC-2 Beaver C-FJBP Westcoast Air

C-FJBP (c/n 942) was involved in an accident 19Feb08 here at Nanaimo, fog patches had been reported over the water, pilot initiated an overshoot, aircraft suffered minor damage when it struck a tree with lh outboard wing, circled & landed, no injuries.

History of C-FJBP, as well as all the other Beavers here, can be found on Neil Aird's wonderful DHC-2 website


 

 


MARTIN MARS AT SPROAT LAKE, B.C.
Martin Mars air tanker
Still heading for Tofino, on the westcoast of Vancouver island, I couldn't believe my luck when driving in the town centre of Port Alberni I noticed a speck in the dictance which could only be the unique, incomparable, extraordinary Martin Mars!
Only two of these 'aviation dinosaurs' remain airworthy and since their task is aerial firefighting, one should consider himself very lucky to see one airborne. Unless of course you live in Port Alberni or nearby their airtanker base on Sproat Lake, but my only other visit dated from 1999...
The sign NOT to the airtanker base It was obvious that the Martin Mars plane was doing some sort of training as it circled, disappearing from view and reappearing.
Fortunately my wife was driving and I could keep on eye on its activities. being very anxious to get closer and take some pictures, I became increasingly frustrated being held up by traffic in town, roadworks and a schoolbus dropping off schoolkids.
When we noticed this sign, which I mistook for the sign for the airtanker base, we followed the small winding road -still behind the schoolbus!- and trees obstructed the view.
Only now and then the Martin Mars reappeared in my view, it seemed to get lower and lower. After 20 minutes we returned to the main road, realizing we were not getting any closer to the air tanker base, and found the correct turn off. There may have been a view from the pub, but I wasn't looking for a pub but the tanker base so I missed that entirely.

I got to the Coulson airtanker base just in time to see the Martin Mars approaching. Handicapped by my sports injury I managed a poor jog and aimed my telephoto lens. I missed the landing entirely.
The woman on the below left photo, told me it had done water drops and been practising its fire fighting role; she promised to send me some photos she'd taken but never did, unfortunately.
Martin Mars on Sproat Lake, Vancouver Island
Martin Mars on Sproat Lake, Vancouver Island
Martin Mars on Sproat Lake, Vancouver Island

From www.coulsongroup.com/aviation_tankers.html:
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, the company is owned by Coulson Aircrane Ltd who have determined that efficiencies gained over the years have "freed up" flying time and our company is 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. In addition to the Mars aircraft, our fleet also includes a Baron 58 (which is called the 'Bird Dog' because it acts as the spotter plane).
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.

View the Coulson Flying Tankers web site: www.martinmars.com
Another excellent website with comprehensive information on these Martin Mars airtankers is www.oldwings.nl
Dirk Septer wrote an article in 2002 about the Martin Mars, titled 'God of Rain' and on the same subject an extensive article in Aeroplane Monthly (March 2007). Both are in Acrobat Reader .pdf format.
The webpage www.nanaimoinformation.com/forum has a thread on Martin Mars photos, or alternatively, should this have been deleted, I haved save it in a .pdf file HERE... (Thanks to Baz Stead for pointing this out).
See the news on C-FLYK further below...
Martin Mars of Port Alberni,B.C.
Martin Mars of Port Alberni,B.C.
Martin Mars of Port Alberni,B.C.
Martin Mars of Port Alberni,B.C.
Martin Mars of Coulson airtankers
Martin Mars C-FLYL 'Hawaii Mars'
Martin Mars of Coulson airtankers
Martin Mars C-FLYK
Martin Mars of Coulson airtankers
C-FLYK 'Philippine Mars'
Martin Mars of Coulson airtankers at Port Alberni
Best word to describe these giant planes: HUMONGOUS!


Dirk Septer relayed to me the following news item in aug.2012: "the Coulson Group announced on 23 August 2012 that their Philippine Mars C-FLYK will be retired due to its lack of use for five years.
Repainted in its original US Navy colours, it will be flown to its new home with the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola,FL.
Coulson is hoping to get a C-130 Hercules, or parts of a C-130 in exchange to add to the C-130 they already own, which is based in California."
See Dirk's page for a photo (aug.2012).

Kit Robinson wrote in June 2013 something about the tankernumber on the Hawaiian Mars: "The number #223 on Hawaii was first used on the aircraft in 2009, while operating in Southern California; the number was mainly used while operating in the USA. She has kept this number while operating in Canada as well, as it does fit with the Canadairs which also operate in the 200 series.
2013 will be the last year for the Mars in operations with the B.C. Forest Service. She is operating as Tanker #823 this year but I don't know if the number was painted on the aircraft or not.
I photographed her in 2008 at Shasta Lake and she was looking sharp with the big USFS logo on the nose of the aircraft but still no Tanker number! It wasn't until the following year that she started wearing Tanker #223 on the rear fuselage."

Martinair Mars at Sproat Lake,B.C.
Martinair Mars at Sproat Lake,B.C.

Steve, at Sproat Lake, wrote the following eye-witness report on Yahoo's Classic-Propliner forum:
"Hawaii Mars took off on a routine training flight on 25th August at about 13:50 and returned and alighted on Sproat Lake at 14:57 right in front of me. She manoeuvred up to the buoy,ran all four engines up briefly and then they were all cut simultaneously.
That, it would seem was the end.
The contract finishes on 2nd September and there is heavy rain coming and the guys at the base say she will not be flying again...
Hawaii Mars will be beached on Tuesday 3rd September and I shall be there to watch. I am given to understand that all work will cease on 6th September and the gates will be locked.

The future of Philippine Mars is also apparently in the balance as she had to donate an engine to Hawaii Mars due to a broken valve and another engine is not currently being built up. She is also missing an aileron (minor issue). On top of that I am given to understand that American funding for museums has been cut which jeopardises the move to Pensacola.
All very sad and the end of an era of the big flying boats."

This is the May 2014 update published by Coulsen:
"We continue to make progress on the transfer of the Philippine Mars to the Pensacola Naval Museum located in Florida.  
This project has been three years in the making and I believe this summer we will be delivering the Mars to Pensacola as we continue to finalize the paperwork.
 
The trade will allow us to acquire two C-130 Hercules aircraft, currently located at the Museum, which will become a significant parts supply for our firefighting C-130. 
We will be sending a team to Pensacola to retrieve these aircraft and I will continue to provide updates as we move forward.  
Other aircraft that will be part of this trade will be a Grumman F6F Hellcat. For your information, the Grumman F6F Hellcat was one of the best aircraft carrier fighters in the Pacific theatre in 1943 and was
superior to the Japanese Mitsubishi Zero.
 
The other aircraft of interest is the NK 1 Japanese Rex which was built in 1943 as a float plane fighter.  This aircraft also operated in the Pacific theatre, and once we receive these two colourful aircraft, we will
provide the interesting history of each unique flying machine."  
 
Wayne 
The Coulson Group of Companies

Also from May 2014:
http://917coastfm.com/news/martin-mars-

"Wildfire season has started in BC, but a familiar player in the firefighting game is going to sit this season out.
Port Alberni-based Coulson Aviation, which flies the famous Martin Mars water bomber, didn't get a provincial contract this year.
Wayne Coulson says that means the 'Hawaii Mars' will stay grounded while company decides whether to keep it in the fleet. He says there have been offers, but they want to be pretty selective about where it goes if they do decide to sell.
For the next few months Coulson will focus on getting their other Martin Mars ready for its trip to a museum in Florida as part of a deal that's been in the works for the past few years.
Coulson says they're hoping to have both planes in the air together for some kind of celebration and fly-past before then, perhaps as part of filming for a TV segment.
He also says the company isn't expecting a financial hit from not getting a contract this fire season, pointing out that operating the Mars as a water bomber was 'revenue neutral'. "

 

 

 

TOFINO, B.C. -12SEP10-

Our stay at Tofina was not a great success: it rained most of the time. When it started to rain during the first of three nights of our stay, it continued for over 36 hours. When there was a brief dry spell I wandered along the seaplane base and the various docks in this small town and managed to get a few half decent photos.Tofino, B.C.
Cessna A185F C-GYJX - Ce.185F c/n 18503187, Atleo River Air Service Ltd [Tofino Seafari.com]
12SEP2010 at Tofino, Vancouver Island, BC.
Tofino, B.C.
DeHavilland DHC-2 C-GFLT Tofino Air seen arriving.

 

For more bushplanes seen on this trip, see also my photos at Flickr.com


 

 

Port Alberni Airport, Vancouver Island
13SEP2010. We passed Port Alberni Airport and since I had seen the airtanker base while driving west, I though it appropriate to have a quick look at the airport here while driving east again.
The presence of this Nanchang CJ6A C-FLFS (c/n 5232011, imported in 2006 and registered to Matthew Salkeld) was indeed a pleasant surprise.

 

 

CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C.

Campbel River, The SpitFirst time for me in Campbell River and I was in the fortunate circumtance of enjoying the hospitality of Dirk Septer, aviation researcher and writer.

Dirk took me out to 'The Spit', where the Campbell River Waterdrome is located, as well as a maintenance facility of Sealand Aviation. Two seaplane operators are based here: Vancouver Island Air and Corilair.
Vancouver Island Air (website) had two Beech 18s shrinkwrapped (www.abpic.co.uk/photo/1144118/ for 2 registrations, linjk provided by Roger Janssens) in white plastic on the dry and Beech 18 C-FGNR & DHC-3T C-GHAG in the water at the dock.
Vancouver Island Air
Beech D18S C-FGNR (CA-191); during Jan08 it was reported to be the last operational Beech 18 with Vancouver Island Air. In the same report C-FCSN, C-GAIV, CF-PFC were mentioned to be stored but I only saw 2 airframes (outside) wrapped and stored.

Sealand Aviation at Campbell River

I made a seperate page for MY VISIT TO SEALAND AVIATION

Campbell River, Corilair
DHC-2 C-GACK (c/n 711), registered since 19Mar07 to Corilair Charters Limited (their website)
Floatplanes on The Spit, Campbell River
Cessna U206D C-FEWP Corilair
Note that remarkable boat in front!
Floatplanes on The Spit, Campbell River
Cessna 180G C-FPGN Kenneth Black
A bird uses 'GN as a lookout..
Art on The Spit, Campbell River
Art is where you see it!
...
Seaplanes on The Spot at Campbell River,B.C.
Campbell River, B.C. Seaplane base DHC-2 Beaver C-FFAQ and
Cessna A185F C-FVAC
Campbell River, B.C. Seaplane base
DHC-2 Beaver C-FFAQ (c/n 94),
of Sea to Sky Air Ltd
Campbell River, B.C. Seaplane base
C-FWCA (c/n 1285),Vancouver Island Air Ltd, registration canx 01Jun09
Campbell River bushplanes
DHC-2 N5344G (c/n 1219) registered to Miles G. Ramsey Jr., Portland,OR on 10Jan08.

Here is its history, courtesy www.dhc-2.com:
c/n 1219 Delivered on 21/04/58 as 57-6139 to the US ARMY
As N5344G registered in Jan.1977 for Civil Air Patrol Inc. (headquarters at Maxwell AFB, Mongomery,AL)
At some point reg'd to Miles G. Ramsey Jr. of Palmer, AK. Current in May 1993.
Again, at some point made its way to Sealand at Campblell River, BC and was seen being worked on 02May02 and reported freshly painted 06May02, in green and white.
Reported still stored at Campbell River during April 2004 . Reg'd 10Jan08 once more to Miles G. Ramsey Jr. but as address reported: Portland,OR.
(Almost three years later it still sits here, Mr Ramsey sure isn't in a hurry to be reunited with his Beaver!)
DHC-3T of Vancouver Island Air
deHavilland DHC-3T Turbine Otter C-GHAG of Vancouver Island Air.

DHC-3 Otter c/n 214, its history once more quoted from Karl E. Hayes' excellent monograph (see also above)...

...was delivered to A.Fecteau Transport Aerien Ltee, Senneterre, Quebec on 17May57 registered CF-JUH.
The company was later renamed Air Fecteau.
At one stage, with a fleet of 11 DHC-3s, Air Fecteau was the world's largest commercial operator of the Otter, and served the entire of the Quebec bush country!
CF-JUH is mentioned in the history of the RCAF's radar station at Senneterre, monitored on 27Jan61 on a flight from Great Whale to Senneterre. JUH was destined to be the longest serving of the Air Fecteau Otters, becoming C-FJUH.
It was reregistered to Propair Inc in May 1982, when Air Fecteau amalgamated into that company. It was still in service with Propair during the summer of 2001. It was advertised for sale in April 2002 with an impressive total of 22,475 hours on the airframe, after 45 years of continuous service in the Quebec bush country without an accident, a remarkable record!
It was at that stage parked at Rouyn- Noranda,Que. and remained in storage throughout 2002.
On 20Jun03, 'JUH was registered to Somiper Aviation Inc of Montreal and, having crossed the country to the Pacific Coast, on 07Aug03 it was registered to Viking Air Ltd of Victoria BC.
By 01Dec03 it had emerged from the hangar at Victoria converted to a Vazar turbine, painted in the colour scheme of Trans Maldivian Airways.

Viking Air had secured a contract to supply two turbine Otters to Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA), JUH being one and G-GVTO (c/n 393) the other. JUH was cancelled from the Canadian register on 16Feb04 and was crated and shipped to the Maldives, a group of islands located in the Indian Ocean.
On arrival at the capital Male, the Otter was re-assembled and re-registered 8Q-TMZ to TMA.
The Maldives had become a very popular upmarket tourist destination. They comprise a group of atolls, many of which have exclusive tourist resorts. The capital is Male, which has an international airport, and two airlines had developed to provide transportation from Male to the resorts on the other atolls, as well as scenic flights for tourists.
The two airlines were Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA), with a fleet of twelve DHC-6 Twin Otters and Maldivian Air Taxi, with seventeen Twin Otters. TMA decided to add the two turbine Otters to its fleet.

For Otter 'JUH, which had spent the first 45 years of its existence flying around the often frozen bush country of Quebec, this paradise island hopping was certainly a change. The other Otter, 393, also arrived at Male in the Maldives but was not re-registered. By that stage, TMA had a change of mind, and had concluded that they did not want a mixed fleet, that they would stick with the Twin Otters and so the two Single Otters 214 and 393 were put up for sale.
A buyer was soon found, in the shape of Sri Lankan Air Taxi, based at Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. This company had been formed in 2003 as a subsidiary of Sri Lankan Airlines, the national carrier, to operate internal flights within Sri Lanka, and had acquired a Cessna Caravan as its first aircraft.
In August 2004 the acquisition of the two turbo Otters was announced, and further destinations were added to the network, Weerawila and Ampara.
Scenic tours and photo flights and charters were also operated.

The two Otters were shipped from The Maldives to Sri Lanka, registered to Sri Lankan Air Taxi in Oct. 2004, c/n 214 as 4R-ARA (and 393 as 4R-ARB) and entered service on these domestic routes alongside the Cessna Caravan. The peaceful existence of this Indian Ocean island was shattered on 26Dec04, by the infamous tsunami (tidal wave) which wreaked death and destruction on a massive scale throughout the region...
Sri Lanka was one of the countries worst affected, with many thousands of people killed and horrific destruction all along its eastern and southern coasts. A huge international aid effort got underway shortly after the disaster and continued throughout January 2005. The two Otters were also diverted to assist in the relief flights, with 4R-ARA flying as a wheel plane and 4R-ARB on amphibious floats.

These two Otters continued in service for nearly three years but due to the declining security situation within Sri Lanka (with frequent attacks by 'Tamil Tiger' insurgents), many of the destinations served had to be abandoned, and this fact together with the declining number of tourists visiting the country rendered the operation no longer viable.
Sri Lanka Airlines decided to close down the operation, with the last flight operating on 05Jun07. The two Otters were put into storage at Colombo and put up for sale.
During nearly three years of operation, Sri Lanka Air Taxis had operated 3,700 revenue flights and carried over 17,000 passengers, demonstrating that in better times there was sufficient demand for such domestic air travel within Sri Lanka.

C-GHAG of Vancouver Island Air,
loading for departure
Vancouver Island Air at Campbell River

The buyer of the 2 Otters was Harbour Air of Vancouver. The 2 DHC-3 Otters were shipped from Colombo to Vancouver, arriving in 4 large containers on 31Oct07 and over the winter of 2007/08 the Otters were repainted into Harbour Air colours and made ready for service. 4R-ARA was registered to Harbour Air as C-GHAG on03Oct07 and on the same day 4R-ARB was reg'd to Harbour Air as C-FJHA.

G-GHAG was reg'd on 06May08 to Vancouver Island Air of Campbell River.

DHC-2 C-FJPB
DHC-2 C-FJPB (c/n 1319), reg'd to Corilair Charters Ltd on 08Feb06

 

 

DHC-2 Turbo Beaver C-FASA
deHavilland DHC-2 Mk.III, turbine-configured, C-FASA (c/n 1640TB22) at Campbell River Airport 14SEP10.
Registered to Telus Communication Inc, Richmond,BC on 06Jan04.
Its history, once more courtesy DHC-2.com:
Manufactured in 1966 and delivered on 21Jul66 as CF-ASA to Algoma Steel Corporation
Reg'd 12Feb91 as C-FASA to the British Columbia Telephone Company of Richmond,BC.
At an unspecified date reg'd to Fletcher Challenge Canada Ltd. (Richmond,BC)
and reg'd to Telus Communications Inc. on 06Jan04.

 

DC-3 N877MG
This DC-3 brought back some memories for me! It is depicted on my page More Gooney Birds, showing an image I took in 1997 at Hayward,CA. It had a special nose which housed a weather radar - one can still see how N877MG recently had a nose job!
For more information on R4D-6/DC-3C N877MG (c/n 14193/25638) I refer to the photo taken in 1977.
My page dedicated to my visit to Sealand Aviation shows photos of the interior and cockpit.

 

 

Out on a flight with DHC-2 C-FIGF
DHC-2 C-FIGF Wakash Contracting Ltd; I had the pleasure of a flight in this shiny Beaver. Joy!

Ken Leigh, the pilot of DHC-2 C-FIGF
DHC-2 Beaver pilot Ken Leigh scans the water surface and sky before line up on the river and take off.
For this flight I have both Dirk Septer, for arranging this flight, as well as Ken, for his hospitality, to thank Hurrah!

Here we go on take off with DHC-2 C-FIGF
Here we go!!!

Ken Leigh has the best office!
DHC-2 pilot Ken Leigh in the best office in the world!

History of DHC-2 Mk.1 c/n 834:
Delivered on 20Jan1956 as CF-IGF to B. C. Yukon Air Service Ltd. of Watson Lake,YT .
Reg'd 25Apr1988 to Fleetwood Logging Co., Ltd.
Reregistered C-FIGF for Vancouver Island Air Ltd., Campbell River, BC on 02Sep88 and again on 07Jul94. Next was North Island Air & Marine Ltd. of Port McNeill,BC (28Jan2000).
Presently registered to and operating for Wahkash (Contracting) Ltd. of Campbell River, BC since 15Jan02 and again on 09Jun09.
Source and more photos of this DHC-2 Beaver taken during it spast career: www.DHC-2.com

Ken shuttles employees and goods to the logging camps in the area; he took me to Knights Inlet, north east of Cambell River. He knows this area like the back of his hand, and you can see by that smug smile on his face he's enjoying every minute of it! And thanks for all that 'route info', Ken!

Photos taken during the flight will be added in due course to my travel page of this trip.
 

 

After crossing by BC Ferries from Comox to Powell River, we stayed overnight at Sechelt. Following directions for a place to eat, I found myself at the Seaplane here.
16SEP2010.
The next day I stumbled upon the small Sechelt-Gibsons Airport, while looking for a salmon hatchery. 17SEP2010.
Sechelt Seaplane Base
DHC-2 C-GTBQ (c/n 1319) West Coast Air Ltd_7851
Sechelt-Gibsons Airport
Acro Duster Stolp SA-750 C-GKHK
 

 

At Vancouver IAP (South) 18Sep2010
Vancouver IAP, HS.748 Air North
Getting rarer and rarer to see these Classic Props operating: Air North' HS.748-269 (SRS 2A) C-FCSE (c/n 1679) based at Vancouver on some contract as one normally finds Air North aeroplanes at Whitehorse (Yukon).
Stored at Vancouver IAP, B.C.
DHC-6-100 C-FWTE (c/n 96) &
DHC-2 Mk.III N63VA (c/n 850)
Stored at Vancouver IAP, B.C.
de Havilland DHC-2 C-GPZP
c/n 722
Stored at Vancouver IAP, B.C.
DHC-2 Mk.III C-FDHC
c/n 1677-TB45 Seair Seaplanes
Bushplanes at Vancouver IAP, BC
DHC-2 C-GJZQ (c/n 207) Beaukent Developments Inc. (Richmond B.C) reg'd 22Oct03
and Cessna 180J C-GCQU (c/n 18052485).
C-GJZQ had been involved in a crash on 28-MAR-1996; see ASN Report
Jonathan Buss showed me what had been written on that crash by Martin van den Hemel, staff reporter of Richmond Review:
"A single-engine plane, deHavilland DHC-2 C-GJZQ, leased by a Richmond firm, crashed Thursday morning in a heavily-wooded area a few miles north of Capilano Lake near Cypress provincial park.
Vancouver's Ben Brown, the pilot of the DeHavilland Piston Beaver, and an unidentified male passenger suffered only minor injuries, mainly cuts and bruises, rescue coordinators said.
Leased to Sea Air Services Ltd., the plane was being used to film a made-for-television movie. An accompanying helicopter witnessed the crash and helped rescuers pinpoint the wreckage.
Dan Hoegler, media spokesperson for Sea Air said Thursday night that both passengers were resting at home less than eight hours after the incident.
"They both walked away from (the crash)," Hoegler said. The plane's occupants were airlifted to St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver after being pulled from the site by a Labrador twin-rotor rescue helicopter.
Capt. Yves Pruneau of the B.C. Rescue Coordination Centre said the downed plane was around 30-year-old but 'very reliable'.
The plane went down in dense brush between power lines and the river, according to Pruneau. The accompanying helicopter was unable to land near the site of the crash, he said.
The cause of the crash had not been determined by press time but investigator.
Sea Air has operated a charter service - consisting of 5 seaplanes - for 13 years from Sea Island. None of the company's aircraft have been involved in an accident since 1983, according to a press release."
Stored at Vancouver IAP - B.C.
DHC-2 C-FGQF (c/n 81)
privately owned ('839901 Alberta Inc'), reg'd 28Aug2000.


Stored at Vancouver IAP - B.C.
C-GOLC (c/n 1392) Baxter Aviation to new owner West Coast Air Ltd. registered 17May07.
On 04Jun2010 again reg'd to Westcoast Air.
Stored at Vancouver IAP - B.C.
C-GOLC & C-GMKP (c/n 1374) Westcoast Air. Background: C-GMXS with Harbour Air titles but is (Nov10) still reg'd to Sioux Narrows Airways Ltd.
Stored at Vancouver IAP - B.C.
C-GHPG (c/n 713) Metasoft Systems Inc, Vancouver,BC registered 12Dec08.


 

Vancouver IAP South Seaplane Base
The Seair Seaplanes dock at Vancouver-South Seaplane base as seen from my seat in the Beaver Bar & Grill...
Vancouver IAP South Seaplane Base
DHC-6-300 C-GKCS (c/n 693) of
Kenn Borek Air.

Vancouver IAP South Seaplane Base
DHC-3T C-GOPP (c/n 355) of
Harbour Air - reg'd 02Jun04.

Vancouver IAP South Seaplane Base
DHC-2 C-FJIM (c/n 461) of
Tofino Air - reg'd 24Jul02.

Vancouver IAP South Seaplane Base
DHC-2 C-FJFL (c/n 898)
Salt Spring Island Air - reg'd 18Feb08.
Flying Beaver Bar & Grill
The Flying Beaver Bar & Grill and the Terminal for Harbour Air operations.
The best of all combinations: good food, a pint of Guinness and looking floatplanes come and go!

SEE ALSO MY PHOTOS TAKEN DURING MY 2006 VISIT HERE.
 

 

 

Propliners at Vancouver IAP
A quick look at the cargo ramp of Vancouver IAP, before heading out to the terminal for the flight home, brought me these images.
Noted were (left to right): Boeing 727-243 C-GWKF (c/n 21270), Convair C-131F C-FKFS (c/n 279) and CV580 C-FKFZ (c/n 151). All these are operated by Purolator, leased fom Kelowna Flightcraft Air Charter Ltd.
For a history on Convair CV580 C-FKFZ, see my report on my 2006 visit here.
Convairs of Flightcraft opb Purolator
C-131F C-FKFS, ex/ US Navy 140996
Convairs of Flightcraft opb Purolator
Convair CV580 C-FKFZ (c/n 151)

 

LINKS:
Revisited Langley's Canadian Museum of Flight Sep.2010
British Columbia Aviation Museum (BCAM) Sep.2010
My Visit to Sealand Aviation, Campbell River, B.C. Sep. 2010

 

 


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