Date: April 29, 1969
Location: Nashville, TN
Newspaper: The Tennessean
A group of Nashville businessmen have formed a nonprofit corporation and purchased a light airplane to help bring aid to poverty stricken natives in the remote jungles of Peru.
Headed by Bruce Salsman of McDowell and Salsman Construction Co., the corporation called Nashville Wings, Inc., has provided a Cessna 205 for Father Guy Gervais, a French Canadian priest and missionary to Peru.
Father Gervais, who has been working in the Peruvian jungles for about a year, said the plane will be used to bring medical aid, teachers and other vestiges of civilization to an isolated area known as “the green hell.”
“There is a great need there,” he said. “There are competent people in Peru, but it is hard to travel through the jungles.
“The people are very poor, and there are no roads. The pilot of an aircraft on floats is like a king.”
Acting as his own mechanic, radio operator and pilot, Father Gervais will operate an airlift between Puerto Maldonado in southern Peru and Iquitos, a town near the northeastern border on the Amazon river.
He is in Nashville preparing the aircraft for flight to South America May 2.
Father Gervais’s mission now has one additional airplane, which was given by Wings of Hope Inc., a non-profit St. Louis corporation with which Nashville Wings will be affiliated.
“One of the critical needs of the people in the jungle is communication,” he said.
“Our primary role is to establish communication, assisting approximately 60 representatives of all faiths in their efforts to provide educational and medical aid to the 60,000 natives in the area.
“The plane,” he added, “is not for hire, and it never will be.”
A member of the Montfort Fathers, Father Gervais served for six years in Australia and New Guinea. He received his theology degree in Ottawa, Canada, and later studied anthropology, sociology, pre-medicine and dentistry at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.
Salsman, who is spearheading the Nashville Wings activity, said the organization needs funds to complete payment for the aircraft and provide for its maintenance, although major contributions have been made by several prominent Nashvillians.