The Martin Mars drops water showing its skill to the AirVenture crowd on Wednesday. The water bomber was damaged during an emergency landing Friday and sidelined from the AirVenture.
Oshkosh — A historic water bomber was damaged in an emergency landing on Lake Winnebago Friday evening and was scheduled to miss an airshow Saturday night as crews made repairs.
Mayco Noel, operations manager for the Canada-based Martin Mars aircraft, said that at about 6:30 p.m. Friday, crews noticed an engine problem during a flight from the Experimental Aircraft Association's AirVenture convention. The crew opted to land on Lake Winnebago to inspect the bomber.
Once on the water, the 160,000-pound plane struck an object under the surface, punching a hole in the aircraft.
The bomber, a Hawaii Mars JRM-3, owned by Coulson Flying Tankers of Port Alberni, British Columbia, was built in 1946 as a cargo plane that ferried troops to Hawaii and casualties back to the mainland. The bomber was later used as a fire-fighting plane. The aircraft was fully loaded with 7,200 gallons of water when it landed Friday.
It is the world's largest water bomber and one of only two planes of its kind.
Martin Mars began taking on water from the rupture, estimated at three inches in diameter, Mayco said. The crews began pumping water from the plane, and with help from the Appleton Fire Department, the plane flew back to the EAA seaplane base.
On Saturday, a crew of divers inspected the damage.
"It's a little disappointing," Mayco said. "But I guess we'll just have to come back next year and redeem ourselves."
Dubbed “the world’s largest water bomber,” EAA AirVenture officials tell Action 2 News that the Hawaii Martin Mars had taken off when its engine light came on, prompting them to land unexpectedly in Lake Winnebago.
Action 2 News has learned that the pilots did not realize the “shallow depths of the water” and the plane—which weighed 160,000 pounds—hit an object at the bottom of the lake. When engineers went to check on the engine, they saw a basketball-sized hole taking in water.
The Appleton Fire Department helped assist with pumps that were used to get the water out of the plane. The leak has been fixed and tours will continue.
Learn more about the Hawaii Martin Mars HERE.