Hawaii Mars Movie Star
By David Wiwchar
PORT ALBERNI – The Hawaii Mars performed in front of the cameras Thursday, as the plane has a starring role in the big-screen version of the popular 1980’s TV show ‘The A-Team’.
Large movie cameras were mounted on a pair of helicopters and also on boats, as the crew of Hawaii Mars performed multiple “touch-and-go” take-offs, landings and aerial maneuvers near Vancouver.
The Hawaii Mars was originally scheduled to perform maneuvers near a freighter anchored in English Bay, but just after take-off from Sproat Lake the location was changed to the western side of Bowen Island.
With specialized helicopters doing their best to keep up with the 4-engine behemoth, pilot Hugh Fraser showed how nimble the world’s largest flying boat can be, performing dives and quick banks with the plane.
With the limited fuel capacities of helicopters, the Hawaii Mars received a couple of breaks in filming while the choppers were forced to head back to Vancouver to refuel. During the breaks, the Martin Mars flew into Vancouver Harbour, slowing traffic on the Lion’s Gate and Second Narrows bridges and people watched in awe as the giant red and white waterbomber flew over the city.
Originally, the second Coulson Flying Tanker ‘Phillipine Mars’ was supposed to do the flight since 20th Century Fox invested almost $200,000 to improve the planes airworthiness, with Hawaii Mars busy fighting fires in California. But as the filming schedule dragged on, the Hawaii Mars returned from Lake Elsinore and became available for the filming.
The Coulson Flying Tankers will occupy a central role in the movie, and will be shown exploding during the film’s climax. Thankfully, the explosion will be a computer generated model, and the Alberni Valley icons will be unharmed and remain ‘fire-ready’.
The BC Government has asked Coulson Water Tankers owner Wayne Coulson if the Hawaii Mars could perform a few water drops in Burrard Inlet during the upcoming Olympic festivities, so the break in filming allowed crew members to plan for the event.
According to Coulson Flying Tankers COO Jim Messer, the company had been in discussions with the government of Australia about employing the Hawaii Mars and partner S-76 ‘Firewatch’ helicopter in fighting wildfires down-under. While the Aussies were interested in the two, they decided upon just employing the Sikorski Helicopter to study the effectiveness of DC-10 waterbombers this year.