The Helimission Foundation, founded in 1971 by Ernie Tanner, is an international relief organization operating with helicopters.
Today, the foundation operates 6 helicopters on several bases in various countries. We work closely with various relief organizations, enabling us to use synergies to pursue our vision.
The Helimission Foundation, based in Trogen, Canton Appenzell Ausserhoden, is tax-exempt in Switzerland for charitable purposes.
Since 2002, Ernie and Hedi’s son Simon Tanner has been the international director of Helimission.
History and Foundation
Ernie Tanner was born in 1927 in Winterthur, Switzerland. As an artist, he attended art schools in Bern, Amsterdam, Philadelphia and Woodstock in the USA. In 1948 he emigrated to the USA where he completed his military service with the Air Force. While he was in the USA, Ernie decided to study theology and was ordained as a pastor in 1955.
Later he returned to Europe as an evangelist. In 1957 he married his wife, Hedi. Together they pastored several churches in Switzerland and Germany and organized children’s camps in Trogen. In addition, he conducted many evangelistic campaigns using his unique art of painting “Chalk Talk”.
In the late 1960s, Ernie Tanner worked as a missionary deep in the jungles of Africa where he had to travel everywhere on foot. He was impressed by the technical abilities of the helicopters used in the Vietnam war, and his desire to use this aircraft to help people in need grew.
At the age of 43 he learned to fly, and with only 37 hours of solo flying experience, he was the first person to cross the Sahara in a piston helicopter when he flew for the first time to a mission in Cameroon. In 1971 he founded the Helimission Foundation and since then he has flown for many missionary projects and relief operations.