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One of the world’s largest flying boats is being retired–to the desert. The Philippine Mars, on of two remaining Martin Mars Second World War Navy transports, has been acquired by the Pima Air and Space Museum near Tucson. The aircraft is owned by the Coulson Group in Port Alberni, British Columbia and spent decades fighting wildfires up and down the west coast of North America. An earlier deal to send the aircraft to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida fell through but the plan was painted in Navy blue in anticipation of that move.

“We are pleased to have the Philippine Mars join our museum where we will preserve this World War II-era aircraft for decades to come,” said Scott Marchand, CEO, Pima Air and Space Museum. A sister ship, Hawaii Mars, which fought fires up until 2015, will be sent to the B.C. Aviation Museum in Sidney, B.C., near Victoria. “As a fitting tribute to their years of service and years of hard work by many people in BC and the U.S., we are pleased to see both Mars aircraft landing to rest at world class institutions in 2024,” said Coulson Group CEO Wayne Coulson.

What’s not clear is how the massive flying boat will get to Tuscon. It has no landing gear and operates only from water. It needs a relatively big body of water to take off and land and there is no such open water in the immediate area of the museum.

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