Daughter writes about father's adventures as an Alaskan pilot


Staff writer

The book, "Bush Pilot Doctor," is full of fascinating stories about the late Elmer Gaede's flying adventures as a physician in Alaska.

Elmer grew up in rural Hillsboro, graduated from high school in the 1940s, and married Ruby Leppke of rural Peabody. They spent most of their adult life in Alaska, where Elmer worked as a physician.

According to their daughter, Naomi Penner, who authored the book, her father was "a scrawny kid and grew into what Gaede men liked to describe as wiry." She said he dreamed of owning a 160-acre farm but was led to become a medical missionary and eventually a homesteader in Alaska.

In the rugged last American frontier of Alaska, the doctor soon discovered that flying was the quickest and often the only way to get from one place to another. He became a pilot and bought his own plane.

In his general practice, he delivered numerous babies and made many emergency flights to provide medical care to native Alaskans and transport them to hospitals. He also enjoyed numerous hunting trips for moose, grizzly bears, and even a polar bear.

Penner compiled many of his intriguing, sometimes harrowing adventures into a fascinating book in which every one of its 28 chapters relates a new flying experience, sometimes with near-death encounters.

The spell-binding stories leave the reader with baited breath as Dr. Gaede finds his way across snow-covered mountains, through foggy valleys, and over frozen tundra to reach his destinations. More than once, he experiences a narrow escape from death.

Written in first person as told to Penner by her father, the book is sure to hold the reader's interest. Pictures and footnotes enhance the read and add to the learning experience it provides.

The autographed book is available by mailing $24.95 plus $4 shipping to: ChangePoints, PO Box 4427, Parker CO 80134 or by credit card through the website: