121 Tatoiou av., 144 52
PILOTE DE GUERRE
A recollection of the shattering days during World War II when, though the fall of France was imminent, a handful of French pilots continued to fight on against the Germans.
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Antoine Marie Roger de Saint-Exup?ry was born in Lyon into an old family of provincial nobility; After failing his final exams at a preparatory school, he entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts to study architecture. In 1921, he began his military service in the 2nd Regiment of Chasseurs, and was sent to Strasbourg for training as a pilot. He became one of the pioneers of international postal flight in the days when aircrafts had few instruments and pilots flew by instinct. Later he complained that those who flew the more advanced aircraft were more like accountants than pilots. He worked on the A?ropostale between Toulouse and Dakar. His first tale L'Aviateur (The Aviator) was published in the magazine Le Navire d'argent. In 1928, he published his first book, Courrier-Sud (Southern Mail), and flew the Casablanca/Dakar route. He became the director of Cap Juby airfield in Rio de Oro, Sahara. In 1929, Saint-Exup?ry moved to South America, where he was appointed director of the Aeroposta Argentina Company. In 1931, Vol de Nuit (Night Flight), which won the Prix Femina, was published. He kept writing and flying until the beginning of the war.On April 11, 1931, he married Consuelo Suncin Sandoval de G?mez, a widowed Salvadoran artist and writer who was the model for the temperamental Rose in Le Petit Prince. Theirs was a stormy union as Saint-Exup?ry traveled frequently and indulged in numerous affairs.During World War II, he would escape to New York City, but came back to fight with the Allies in a squadron based in the Mediterranean. Now age 44, he was about to quit but agreed to one last mission: to collect data on German troop movements in the Rhone River Valley. He took off the night of July 31, 1944, and was never seen again. A lady reported having seen a plane crash around noon of August 1 near the Bay of Carqueiranne. A body wearing a French uniform was found several days later and was buried in Carqueiranne that September. In 1998, a fisherman found a silver chain bracelet south of Marseille. At first it was thought a hoax, but it was identified later as Saint-Exup?ry's. On April 7, 2004, officials confirmed that the twisted wreckage of a Lockheed P-38 Lightning, found on the seabed off the coast of Marseille in 2000, is Saint-Exup?ry's. The discovery is akin to solving the mystery of where Amelia Earhart's plane went down in the Pacific Ocean in 1937. However, the cause of the crash remains a mystery.If not always autobiographical, Saint-Exup?ry's work is greatly inspired by his experiences as a pilot. An exception is The Little Prince, his most famous book, a poetic illustrated tale in which he imagines himself stranded in the desert where he meets The Little Prince, a young boy from a tiny asteroid. In many ways The Little Prince is a philosophical story, with emphasis on criticizing society and the excesses of the adult world.