Antoine de Saint Exupery
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Orville and Wilbur Wright
Over the past century, the thrill of flying has inspired some to perform remarkable feats of daring. For others, their desire to soar into the skies led to dramatic leaps in technology. For Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, his love of aviation inspired stories which have touched the hearts of millions around the world.
Born in 1900 in Lyons, France, young Antoine was filled with a passion for adventure. When he failed an entrance exam for the Naval Academy, his interest in aviation took hold. He joined the French Army Air Force in 1921 where he first learned to fly a plane. Five years later, he would leave the military in order to begin flying air mail between remote settlements in the Sahara desert.
For Saint-Exupéry, it was a grand adventure - one with dangers lurking at every corner. Flying his open cockpit biplane, Saint-Exupéry had to fight the desert's swirling sandstorms. Worse, still, he ran the risk of being shot at by unfriendly tribesmen below. Saint-Exupéry couldn't have been more thrilled. Soaring across the Sahara inspired him to spend his nights writing about his love affair with flying.
When World War II broke out, Saint-Exupéry rejoined the French Air Force. After Nazi troops overtook France in 1940, Saint-Exupéry fled to the United States. He had hoped to join the U. S. war effort as a fighter pilot, but was dismissed because of his age. To console himself, he drew upon his experiences over the Saharan desert to write and illustrate what would become his most famous book, The Little Prince (1943). Mystical and enchanting, this small book has fascinated both children and adults for decades. In the book, a pilot is stranded in the midst of the Sahara where he meets a tiny prince from another world traveling the universe in order to understand life. In the book, the little prince discovers the true meaning of life. At the end of his conversation with the Little Prince, the aviator manages to fix his plane and both he and the little prince continue on their journeys.
Shortly after completing the book, Saint-Exupéry finally got his wish. He returned to North Africa to fly a warplane for his country. On July 31, 1944, Saint-Exupéry took off on a mission. Sadly, he was never heard from again.