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Saints Alive!

Updated: Oct 25, 2023


St Gemma - revered more for her spiritual prowess than her intimate knowledge of the principles of winged and win glass flight.

Described by friends as one of the luckiest men on the planet, Chilfrome-born Wheeler Fortune (63) was giving thanks to St Gemma of Tarquinia* and his XXXXL wife Doreen today as he celebrated surviving a near fatal accident in the skies high above busy Frome Vauchurch International Airport. The couple had experienced a smooth Duty Free experience and a trouble free departure before what should have been a dream experience to which both were greatly looking forward. An airport spokesperson said the couple were en route to an undisclosed continental holiday destination when the terrifying incident occurred.


* Canonized only 37 years after her death, Saint Gemma [Galgani] is the patroness of students, pharmacists, those suffering back injury or headaches, and [despite the fact that she died 8 months before [April 11, 1903] the historic flight on December 17, 1903, when Orville Wright piloted the first powered airplane 20 feet above a beach in North Carolina] of paratroopers and parachutists. One can only surmise that her status as Patron Saint of those with back injury is a form of ecclesiastical protection from litigation on behalf of parachutists who come off worse when landing. It is also perhaps ironic that St Gemma's most famous utterance - "Give me wings oh Jesus, so I can fly to Your throne!" [June, 1902] shows a distinct lack of understanding of the central concept of parachuting.


Caught in the act: Mr Fortune during his miraculous descent. He survived. HIs temporary parachute did not.

Shortly after being served a "not entirely satisfactory" tuna melt, Mr Fortune had just unbuckled his seatbelt ["the better to relieve a bout of trapped wind"] when the cabin door opened unexpectedly and he found himself thrown to the floor. As the air pressure dropped, several pieces of overhead luggage fell around him but, happily, did not strike him with any great force. One suitcase containing his wife's clothing opened up and thanks to uncharacteristically quick thinking on the part of his oversized wife who "did a quick rummage in her "smalls" ", he was able to grasp a pair of her sturdy [and thankfully relatively utilitarian] knickers. Seizing them with both hands, he was then able to deploy them, once free from the aircraft, and to commence an orderly descent. "I even found", he said "that by tugging on the reinforced gusset I was able to control both the speed and the direction of my fall, ultimately hitting the ground only yards from the international arrivals gate at the airport". "The only bugger was they made me walk several hundred yards to domestic arrivals, as technically I had not left Dorset airspace".


Ex RAF pilot - Ian Strumment-Klusta - described the untrained Mr Fortune's descent as "a very creditable attempt at a jump, given his lack of experience" and also praised Mrs Fortune, not least her refusal - despite repeated urgings on the part of Mr Fortune - to lose weight. "Had she been an XXXL, things might have turned out very differently", he added. Slimming guru and influencer Mrs Brenda Oats was not available for comment.

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