Alberni’s Coulson Group adds C-130 Hercules to firefighting fleet

The owner of the Martin Mars water bombers is expanding its firefighting fleet with the addition of a new C-130 Hercules aircraft.

The acquisition is aimed at an opportunity to work with the U.S. Forest Service in late 2014, said business owner Wayne Coulson.

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The C-130 will be converted in Singapore to carry tanks and then be brought back to North America, possibly Port Alberni where the company is based, for completion and testing.

“We are in discussions with the regional district about bringing the aircraft back to Alberni for completion and testing and have put options on the table as we will require a minimum of a 500-foot runway extension,” Coulson said in a statement.

It’s “more likely” the aircraft will be outfitted elsewhere on the Island or the continent, he said.

This would be the second C-130 for Coulson. The first is on the front lines of the “next generation” air tankers and “performing extremely well, exceeding our expectations,” Coulson said.

“We continue to invest in technology and performance that separates our company from competitors as we focus on customers’ needs for real time information while enancing the effectiveness of our aircraft,” Coulson said.

The Hawaii Mars bomber is facing retirement after fighting wildfires for a conglomerate of B.C. forest companies and then Coulson. Its sister aircraft, the Philippine Mars, is being painted in U.S. Navy blue in preparation for transport to a military museum in Florida.

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