Date: January 7, 1981
Location: St. Louis, MO
By: Victor Volland
Newspaper: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
No soldier of fortune is Guy Gervais, although his credentials certainly qualify him. The strapping 6-foot-3, ruggedly handsome French Canadian is one of the world’s most experienced pilots.
With well over 15,000 hours logged in the wilds of Central and South America, the South Pacific and northern Canada, he speaks French, Spanish, Portuguese, English and several New Guinea dialects.
He was also for 20 years a missionary priest with the Montfort Fathers in New Guinea in 1958, he took flying lessons because, he said, there was no other way to get around the island, one of the world’s most primitive. He was dispensed from his priestly vows in 1973 when he married a Peruvian woman.
Gervais was in St. Louis today to help ferry two newly donated planes to Honduras in Central America to carry food, medicine and other vital supplies to isolated settlers. Since 1967, Gervais has been associated with Wings of Hope, a St. Louis-based international humanitarian organization that supplies modern airplanes and pilots to underdeveloped areas on four continents.
The single-engine planes – a Cessna 206 with short take-off and landing equipment donated by Margaretha C. Jordan of Webster Groves and a Cessna 205 donated by Mr. and Mrs. Richard Klieforth of St. Louis County, will supplement a Cessna 185 that Gervais has been using to serve the 6,000-square-mile Patuca Valley of southern Honduras.
The rugged but fertile jungle area is being settled by the Honduran government, which has given each settler family 10 acres of land to farm. Since 1978, about 6,000 people have been organized into six farming cooperatives in the previously unpopulated valley, but there is still no permanent road into the area, which receives up to 350 inches of rain a year, Gervais said.
“It’s rough, but for many it is like Abraham going to the Promised Land,” said Gervaais, who has kept the promise alive by providing vital supply and communications links with the outside. His plane regularly transports nurses, doctors, medicines, livestock and machine spare parts into the area and hospital cases and surplus farm produce out.
The new Cessna 206 that Gervais will be ferrying to his Honduran base has been named in memory of a friend, the late Ed Mack Miller, an aviation writer and veteran United Airlines pilot who had contributed volunteer services to Wings of Hope, which has offices at 2319 Hampton Avenue. The non-denominational organization , which was founded in 1962, is supported by United and many associates of Miler.
It was Miller, Gervais recalled, who, after accompanying him on a flying mercy mission across the perilous mountains of southwestern Guatemala after the devastating earthquake in 1976, adopted his motto in Spanish, “El espiritu santo mantiene el helice rotando.” (“The Holy Spirit keeps the propeller going.”)