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Giant flying boat headed to Pima Air and Space Museum

The Martin Mars is one of biggest flying boats ever made
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Posted at 12:05 PM, Apr 25, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — We are here in the desert, but Pima Air and Space Museum will be home to one of the biggest flying boats ever built.

The museum will be receiving a Martin Mars flying boat.

There are bigger flying boats, like Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose but the Martin Mars is the largest flying boat that was ever in routine use.

The U.S. Navy bought five of the giant planes during World War Two. The Navy used them as long range cargo carriers.

Two of the planes survived. ACanadian company called Coulson Aviation used the huge planes as fire tankers. Now the company has retired the planes and decided Pima Air and Space will be a good home for one of them.

Our video story includes video of one of the two planes in Coulson Aviation colors. That plane, named Hawaii Mars, was flying in the 2016 EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) AirVenture Airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Hawaii Mars is going to a Canadian museum.

Pima Air and Space will get the other existing Martin Mars, named Phillipine Mars. It was also converted for firefighting but it’s back in the original blue paint it wore when it flew for the Navy.

It’s not clear when the big plane will arrive in Tucson and be ready to see.

Craig Smith is a reporter for KGUN 9. With more than 40 years of reporting in cities like Tampa, Houston and Austin, Craig has covered more than 40 Space Shuttle launches and covered historic hurricanes like Katrina, Ivan, Andrew and Hugo. Share your story ideas and important issues with Craig by emailing or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.