The Foundation

Simon Tanner, Leiter Helimission, Schweiz, Helikopter, Organisation, Heli-Mission
Simon Tanner

Helimission is a non-profit helicopter foundation registered in Herisau, county Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Switzerland. It is also registered in Lima, New York as a “501 (c) (3)” institution. The foundation is exempt from taxes.


Today the Foundation works with numerous organizations worldwide; using synergies to fulfill our work and achieve our vision faster.


Simon Tanner, the son of Helimission's founder, Ernie Tanner, is the international director of the Helimission Foundation.

THE HISTORY and foundation

Ernie Tanner was born in 1927 in Winterthur, Switzerland. As as an artist, he attended the school of arts in Bern, Amsterdam, Philadelphia and Woodstock, 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.


Ernst Tanner, Ernie, Hedi Tanner, Helimission, Pioneer, Helicopter Legend, Hero
Ernie and Hedi Tanner

Later he returned as an Evangelist to Europe. In 1957 he married his wife, Hedi. Together they pastored several churches in Switzerland and Germany and organized children's camps in Trogen. 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 and for evangelism 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 missionary operation in Cameroon. In 1971 he founded the Helimission Foundation and since then he has flown for lots of missionary projects as well as many relief flights during famines and disasters.


Helimission’s aim is to provide social, medical and spiritual help to people in remote and inaccessible areas. Helimission is non-denominational and helps those in need without consideration of their religious affiliation.


Helimission operates in the following countries: Madagascar and Indonesia. We are currently looking into other countries in which to operate.

Holistic aid for people in isolated areas, Helimission, Goal, Madagascar
Holistic aid for people in isolated areas

Main Purpose

Helimission has two main purposes:

1. Long term operations in remote areas












2. SOS operations in disaster areas

We currently operate 3 helicopter bases: on the two Indonesian islands Papua and Sulawesi, as well as one in Madagascar.


From our bases, we support local missionary organizations in the bush by flying in provisions for them - rather like a kind of taxi. In addition, we transport building material and medical supplies to supply and maintain bush hospitals.


Further, we fly in medical personnel to treat local inhabitants in remote areas. Many of our flights are to rescue emergency patients and accident victims.


Helimission provides SOS relief in areas affected by catastrophes in cooperation with international and national relief organizations such as the International Red Cross (ICRC), The UN refugee Agency (UNHCR), Doctors Without Borders (MSF), Humedica, Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA), OXFAM, The German Agency for Technical Relief (THW), CARE, Tear Fund, Save the Children, Feed the Hungry, etc.