‘It’s an honour’: Retired water bomber pilots will fly Mars on final mission to Victoria museum


Retired Martin Mars water bomber pilot Peter Killin is preparing for the flight of his life.

“It’s quite an honour,” Killin, who worked at Coulson Aviation for 17 years, told CHEK News on Thursday.

Killin’s flight suit is still on board the aircraft that has been in retirement for nine years, and it’s about to come in handy. Killin and co-pilot Rick Matthews have been asked to fly the plane on one final mission that was announced below the Hawaii Mars’ towering wing at Sproat Lake on Thursday.

“It’s done, it’s going for its rest, it’s well deserved and it’s at home,” said Killin.

“It will be fun to get it to Victoria where everybody can see it. It’s an honour,” said former Mars pilot Rick Matthews.

The BC Aviation Museum announced Thursday that it has acquired the massive water bomber from Coulson Aviation so it can be displayed at the museum based at Victoria’s airport.

“So I hope we celebrate it. We’re going to build a brand new hangar, it’s going to be all glass, and people will be able to see it, fly the Mars in a simulator,” said Richard Mosdell, the project lead for the ‘Save the Mars’ campaign.

The Mars water bomber served B.C. and beyond for 50 years, and saved lives and forests across North America. But according to Coulson Aviation’s Gary Collinge, in the aviation world the plane’s time was up.

“They’re past their prime, that’s for sure, and for her to have a new home, Wayne (Coulson) is really happy about that,” said Collinge.

The Hawaii Mars still requires repairs and certifications that will allow it to make that farewell flight that will happen sometime in fall 2024.

“All the communities can wave goodbye,” said Killin.

Killin told CHEK News that he is planning the flight path to pass from Sproat Lake and the Alberni Valley over to Horne Lake and down East Vancouver Island, allowing fans to celebrate the plane that these firefighting pilots trusted with their lives.

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