British Columbia

Learn to fly a Martin Mars water bomber — for only $25K

A Vancouver Island company is offering the rare opportunity to fly a Second World War aircraft described as the world's largest water bomber.

Owner Wayne Coulson says selling the two-day experience will cover maintenance costs

Coulson Flying Tankers is officially launching The Ultimate Flying Experience — a two day course with the opportunity to fly the world's largest water bomber. (PRNewsFoto/Coulson Group of Companies)

A Vancouver Island company is offering a rare opportunity to fly a Second World War aircraft described as the world's largest water bomber.

"I would say it's like flying a museum," said Wayne Coulson, owner of Coulson Flying Tankers. 

The Ultimate Aviation Experience is a two-day course that includes time in the cockpit of the only two Martin Mars aircraft left in the world — all for a cool $25,000 USD. 

Several Martin Mars aircraft were built for use during the Second World War, but the only two that remain are part of Coulson's fleet in Port Alberni, B.C.

He says aviation enthusiasts have long asked to fly them. 

"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," Coulson said. 

The Coulson fleet is modernizing and the company is looking for new homes for the planes as they head into retirement.

"There will never be an aircraft built that will have flown and dropped more water on wildfires over their five-decade history," said Coulson in a written statement.

"They were the anchor of the B.C. government firefighting program until released from service."

The province ended its contract with the Coulson Group in 2013, but the Martin Mars briefly came out of retirement from service last summer to fight some of the hundreds of wildfires burning across the province.