"Port Alberni, Forestry capital of Vancouver Island" Port Alberni by Darby2

Port Alberni Travel Guide: 41 reviews and 107 photos

Home to many sawmills and pulp mills, the key word in Port Alberni is WOOD. Port Alberni is located at the head of Alberni Inlet. It suffered damage in the 1960's when a large tsunami funneled up the inlet.
Read about it here:

On the way to Port Alberni the main highway passes through Macmillan Park, one of the few preserved stands of virgin forest on the Island in Cathedral Grove. The largest tree is an 800 year old Douglas Fir reaching 76 meters tall and 9 meters in circumfrence.

On a sad note, in the winter of 2003, two Albertans were killed when a snow-laden tree more tha 60 meters tall that was rotten, fell under the weight of excessive snow and crushed the occupants in their car. In 1997 there was a huge windstorm in the area that felled a number of ancient trees.

A vast network of logging roads covers much of this area. One of the roads leads to the Carmanah-Walbron park wherein the oldest and tallest trees on the Island grow near Nitinat Lake. The Heaven Tree and the Carmanah Giant are probably the tallest Sitka Spruce trees in the world. The Carmanah Giant is 95 meters tall or more than 312 feet, despite the fact that it is only 400 years old. By comparison, the tallest Redwoods in California are about 375' but more than 2000 years old.

Always be very wary of logging trucks and give them a wide berth and plenty of room to manouvre. They work day and night and weekends too. Many of the logging roads are privately owned and access is restricted from public use during working hours. Here's a short video showing some of the big logging trucks in action.

To protect these forests, two of the world's largest flying boats, Martin Mars are stationed nearby on Sproat Lake. They have a wingspan of 200 feet and can carry 7200 gallons of water to dump on forest fires.

Martin Mars water bombers

Flying Tankers in Port Alberni operate the two largest flying boats in the world. The planes are powered by four 2200 horsepower Wright engines. Maximum speed 238 mph, cruising speed 185 mph, range 5800 miles

Dropping the load of water

These huge aircraft skim the surface of the lake and pick up a load of 7200 gallons in specially designed plywood tanks.
Manufacturer: Glenn L. Martin Company
Powerplant: Four Wright Cyclone R3350-24WA
engines @ 2500h.p. each (1865 kw)
Curtiss Electric 4-blade propellers with a ?
blade diameter of 15 ft. 2 in. (5 m)
Overall Length: 120 ft. (36m)
Height: 48 ft. (14.63 m)
Hull Beam: 13.5 ft. (4.12 m)
Hull Draft: 5.5 ft. (1.68 m)
Wing Span: 200 ft. (61 m)
Gross Weight: 162,000 lbs. (73,483 kg)
Water/Foam Load: 60,000 lbs. (27,216 kg)
Cruising Speed to Fire: 190 mph (305 kmh)
Drop Speed: 138 mph (220 kmh)
Landing Approach Speed: 115 mph (185 kmh
Touchdown Speed: 92 mph (148 kmh)
Fuel Consumption (Cruise): 420 US gal (1590 lph)
Fuel Consumption (Operations): 780 US gal (2,955 lph)
Fuel Capacity
Hawaii Mars:
Philippine Mars: ?
6,485 US gal (24,550 Litres)
13,200 US gal (49,962 Litres)
Operations Duration (normal): 5 1/2 hours
Area Covered, single drop: 3 to 4 acres (1.2 to 1.6 ha)
Drop Height: 150 to 200 ft. (45m to 61m)
Full Tank Load: 7,200 US gal (27,276 Litres)

photo courtesy of Flying Tankers Inc.

  • Intro Updated Jan 13, 2008
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