Kermit Weeks always makes a splash at AirVenture but this may be his biggest ever. The serial aircraft collector and owner of Fantasy of Flight Museum in Florida will be part of the crew flying the massive Martin Mars flying boat from Vancouver Island in British Columbia to the seaplane base on Lake Winnebago on Saturday. Weeks has been in Port Alberni, B.C., the past week learning the ropes of the aircraft. According to local news reports, he bought his seat on the flight deck by paying the $40,000 fuel bill for the eight-hour flight. “My personal thing here is I truly believe I’m being part of history,” Weeks told CTV News. “I have my doubts whether the airplane will continue flying.”
The Mars, owned by the Coulson Group, will be a star attraction at AirVenture and will fly during at least some of the afternoon airshows, undoubtedly showing the fire-dousing ability of its 8,000-gallon tanks. The aircraft has been used for more than 40 years in western North America as an air tanker but a change in tactics by firefighting authorities and the huge expense of keeping the Second World War-era aircraft airworthy have left it grounded for most of the past few fire seasons. Coulson is offering type ratings on the plane and looking for new revenue prospects for it on the Oshkosh trip. More than $1 million was spent getting it ready for the flight.
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Kermit will be interviewed at the Monday morning, July 25 Vintage in Review held at Interview Circle in Bill Rose Plaza. He should have some interesting recent stories to share. Plenty of bleacher seating. Interviews start at 11:00 am Monday through Friday. Plenty of bleacher seats.