Watch: The Martin Mars Waterbomber on Shasta Lake

When wildfires become difficult to control in NorCal, sometimes firefighters need a little help from the air. Call in the Martin Mars Waterbomber to scoop up water on Shasta Lake and drop it on wildfires, giving firefighters and NorCal smokejumpers some much needed relief.

As of writing this, it is unclear the last time the Martin Mars assisted with a local fire (the last documented trip was 2008), but I will never forget the surprise of this thing landing right next to me while I was jet skiing on the lake years ago. It really is a surreal experience.




I wanted to relive the experience and share it with you fine folks. So here are some videos to show you exactly what this thing does:




Here is the press release from 2008 announcing the arrival of the aircraft:

Waterbomber airplane from Canada arrives at Shasta Lake, California, USA!

(Sunday, June 29, 2008 – 11:46 a.m.) The Martin Mars waterbomber arrived at Bridge Bay Resort around 9:00 a.m. today. The airplane is a U.S. Forest Service asset that was contracted with help from Cal Fire.

The airplane is based in Port Alberni, British Columbia, Canada and operated by Coulson Flying Tankers. The company has two Martin Mars airplanes. The airplane at Shasta Lake is named the “Hawaii Mars”. The plane will be operating in the Bridge Bay area near the Pit River Bridge (i-5) and the Sacramento Arm of Shasta Lake. The plane anchors and refuels at Bridge Bay Resort where Coulson Flying Tankers has a temporary base.

The boating public is being asked to treat the airplane as an emergency vehicle and stay clear as it scoops up water from Shasta Lake. The airplane scoops up water as it skims across the lake. The scooping area on the Sacramento arm is being patrolled by the U.S. Forest Service, Shasta County Sheriff’s Boating Safety Unit and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

The public is also being asked to be careful and not be distracted by the airplane when driving across the Pit River Bridge on Interstate 5.

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