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|Last Updated: Monday, November 05, 2012|
Giant Water Bomber and Firewatch Chopper Team Now Certified for U.S. Forest Service Use
Lake Elsinore, California
A Canadian-registered Martin Mars water bomber and its sophisticated spotter helicopter were officially certified Saturday as "Mission Ready" by the U.S. Forest Service for battling potential wildland fires in the Angeles, Cleveland and San Bernardino National Forests.
Owner Wayne Coulson, of Coulson Flying Tankers, told FDNNTV his crew flew several "check rides," or test missions, late Friday and then again Saturday morning with USFS observers on board.
The vintage aircraft made practice, thirty-second long, water scoops on nearby Diamond Valley Lake then, as Coulson described the maneuvers, "roared around" a mountainous section of the San Bernardino National Forest for monitored 7,200 gallon target drops.
At the same time Coulson's new Sikorsky S-76 electronics-filled chopper successfully demonstrated its ability to lead the Martin Mars into fire zone target areas while video taping and relaying aerial observations of water drops back to Forest Service incident commanders on the ground.
Coulson said, "It was a 100-percent successful familiarity performance for Forest Service personnel who now know how best to deploy the two aerial firefighting aircraft when needed."
The Coulson team was to relocate to Lake Elsinore from Vancouver Island, British Columbia on June 12th under terms of an "exclusive use" contract with the USFS for the Southern California region. But American government certification and paperwork delays pushed the Lake Elsinore arrival back to July 12th.
According to Coulson, "It's been a long process to get us where we are today. But now we have been given the opportunity to showcase both the Hawaii Mars and the Firewatch-76 technology together as one unit."
The monstrous red and white flying boat and accompanying helicopter along with a dozen support team personnel are stationed on the north end of Lake Elsinore in Southwest Riverside County until December 11th.
According to Coulson, "The Mars and the S-76 helicopter team can be airborne within 18 minutes of receiving a fire call from the local USFS dispatch center. The two aircraft will operate within a thirty-minute range of Lake Elsinore unless needed elsewhere."
Author:Bill Lorin - FDNNTV.com
I work for Chula Vista Fire dept. 2 miles from TJ. I would like to see the aircraft, can you give me any idea of where and when the Martin Mars will be in southern Cal? John Bates ~ John Bates
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