Where Angels Fear To Fly

A couple of months ago, I was privileged to enjoy a ride among the snowy Alps in one of Helimission’s helicopters – I wrote about it here.  https://catterel.wordpress.com/2022/03/20/into-the-blue-yonder/

Helimission is a remarkable, probably unique, charitable foundation based here in Eastern Switzerland that, for over 50 years, has been using helicopters to transport humanitarian aid, medical staff and missionaries across terrain that would otherwise be inaccessible. Mostly jungle. I have been translating for them for a number of years as my contribution to their admirable work. Here’s a link to their web page https://www.helimission.org/en/the-foundation/

Yesterday in my letterbox I found a book by the founder of Helimission, the irrepressible nonagenarian Ernie Tanner, entitled “Where Angels fear to fly”. On opening it, I realised to my delight that this was my translation – under a new title – of “Dem Tod entronnen – immer wieder”, the English version in print at last. (ISBN 978-3-9525111-4-5)

This is an unputdownable account of some of Ernie’s many brushes with death, told in his inimitable style, and I had a great deal of enjoyment translating it. In fact, translating books like this doesn’t actually feel like work: the stories flow from one death-defying event to the next like a raging torrent, interspersed with moments of humour and sometimes sadness. 

Throughout Ernie’s narration is the awareness of just how hard his guardian angels must have been working to meet the challenges he constantly confronted them with, and his inextinguishable faith in the grace and protection of God. 

From the minute he set off on his very first flight, with the minimum of required flying hours, very basic instruction and less experience, Ernie humbly admits that he was flying on a wing and a prayer. This first flight took him from his village in eastern Switzerland over mountains, sea, jungle and desert, all the way across France and Spain, over the Strait of Gibraltar and down through Africa to Yaoundé in Cameroon.  

Chapter after chapter, like a cat with nine lives, Ernie recounts his hazardous adventures: emergency landings in fog, in the desert, in sandstorms, at gunpoint, on the edge of a precipice, and on the terrace of a hotel. And all without accident! Ernie was no daredevil: he lost good pilots and friends in helicopter crashes and he knew that Death was always beside him when he was flying. But his mission and his trust in God gave him the courage and wisdom he needed to bring physical and spiritual help to the poorest, most desperate people of Africa. 

“Where Angels fear to fly”  is the follow-up to a book written by Ernie’s wife, Hedi Tanner, entitled “More than an Adventure” (“Mehr als ein Abenteuer”) and will be followed by autobiographies of both Ernie and Hedi, which are in the process of preparation for printing. 

It’s a page-turner, easy to read, and well worth your time. I highly recommend reading this in conjunction with “More than an Adventure” (ISBN 978-1599190075) and – when they finally come out – the absorbing autobiographies of Ernie and Hedi Tanner. 

In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy this two-part interview from 2009.

18 thoughts on “Where Angels Fear To Fly

  1. @media only screen and (max-width: 800px) {table.body .container{width: 100% !important;}td > h1.post-name{font-size: 28px !important;}}@media only screen and (max-width: 620px) {body,table.body{background-color: #fff !important;}table.body .wrapper{padding: 32px 24px !important;}table.body .content{padding: 0 !important; margin: 0 !important;}table.body .footer{padding: 0 0 32px !important;}table.body .container{padding: 0 !important; width: 100% !important; margin-top: 0 !important; margin-bottom: 5px !important;}table.body .main{border-left-width: 0 !important; border-radius: 0 !important; border-right-width: 0 !important;}table.body .header{margin-bottom: 40px !important;}table.body p{font-size: 18px !important;}table.body .btn{float: none !important; width: 100% !important;}table.body .btn table{width: 100% !important;}table.body .btn a{width: 100% !important; background: #f9f9f9 !important; font-size: 18px !important;}table.body .btn-primary a{background: #0675c4 !important;}.btn-bar-wrapper{text-align: center;}.btn-bar-wrapper td{width: 100% !important; display: inline-block !important;}.btn-wrapper,.btn-wrapper table.btn-anchor-wrapper{width: 100% !important;}.btn-anchor-wrapper a{display: block !important; margin-bottom: 12px !important;}.btn-wrapper.btn-secondary .btn-anchor-wrapper a{background-color: #f6f7f7 !important;}}

                                           Wh
    
  2. What a lovely surprise for you!

    And what a remarkable man. What I find intriguing is that the charity is based in Switzerland where, I’m sure, there are no jungles at all 🙂 MInd you, the way the climate crisis is accelerating… 😦

    • Ernie was filled with Wanderlust from an early age – I also translated his autobiography but it hasn’t gone to press ye. A very adventurous man! And yes – jungles are creeping up on us!

  3. This sounds fantastic. I tried to find the book online, but had no luck. Even found Ernie’s HeliMission site, but no links for the book Interestingly I did find Hedi’s book but there was nothing linking to Ernie’s work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s