In Canada, timber is a very important industry. And in British Columbia it's even more?
GV & CU PAN Martin Mars Flying Boat at anchor on Sproat Lake, Vancouver Island. (4 SHOTS)
LV INT Mechanics working on engine with pressurised container in foreground.
CU PAN EXT Unopened engine containers.
CU Aircraft preparing for takeoff. (2 SHOTS)
GV Flying Boat takes off.
SV PAN INT Flying Boat showing two decks.
GV & TV Aircraft approaching forest fire. (3 SHOTS)
LV Aircraft drops water. (5 SHOTS)
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Background: In Canada, timber is a very important industry. And in British Columbia it's even more important. More than half the Province's income from timber. With that amount of money involved, a lot is spent on safeguards. One of those safeguards dates back to the Second World War.
SYNOPSIS: The safeguard is in the form of a Martin Mars Flying Boat. Only five of them were built during World War Two for the United States. This is one of the two remaining Martin Mars in the world. It's owned by Forest Industries Flying Tankers which is funded by five Canadian timber companies. In the world of flying boats, the Martin Mars is a giant. Its wings are slightly longer than a Boeing 747's, and it can carry three hundred passengers.
To keep this very special aircraft flying, the company has salvaged engines from other wrecked Martin Mars, and outmoded Constellations and DC-7's. The spare engines are kept in pressurised containers until needed. This keeps them corrosion-free. It's the characteristics of the aircraft as a flying bot that lend it special significance as a fire fighter. As it takes off, it can scoop up 27 thousand litres of water. This it will do dozens of times during a fire-fighting sortie.
Everything about the Martin Mars is big. The flight deck alone is about ten metres long. Despite the plane's vast size their pilots handle them as though they were light aircraft. The pilots have extensive experience. Unless the pilots have at least five thousand hours flying behind them , they are not considered worthy of the task. On a fire fighting job they have to sweep in over the target at altitudes of between 46 and 76 metres.
This particular fire had burned out some 15 hectares of timber valued at around half a million dollars on the retail market. To say the least, flying conditions are dangerous.
From now on, it's just a matter of time before the water bomber kills the fire. With pin-point accuracy, ton on ton of water is dumped on the target - a legacy of the Second World War help to keep a multi-million dollar industry alive.