Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was born in Lyons in 1900. He joined the French army in 1921, and that’s where he flew his first plane.
He left the military five years later and began flying airmail routes into the Sahara Desert, eventually becoming the director of a remote airfield in Rio de Oro. Living conditions were Spartan, but he said, “I have never loved my house more than when I lived in the desert.”
He wrote his first novel, Southern Mail (1929), in the Sahara and never lost his love for the desert.
In 1929, he moved to South America to fly the mail through the Andes, and he later returned to carry the post between Casablanca and Port-Étienne. He worked as a test pilot and a journalist throughout the 1930s, and survived several plane crashes.
He also got married in 1931, to Consuelo Gómez Carrillo. She wrote of him in her memoir, “He wasn’t like other people, but like a child or an angel who has fallen down from the sky.”
He rejoined the French army upon the outbreak of World War II, but when the Nazis invaded France in 1940, he fled to the United States, hoping to serve the U.S. forces as a fighter pilot.
He was turned down because of his age, and, homesick and discouraged, he began his best-known book, The Little Prince (1943). The following year, he returned to North Africa to fly a warplane for France. He took off on a mission on July 31, 1944, and was never heard from again.
He wrote in Wind, Sand and Stars (1939), “It is another of the miraculous things about mankind that there is no pain nor passion that does not radiate to the ends of the earth. Let a man in a garret but burn with enough intensity and he will set fire to the world,”
And, “Transport of the mails, transport of the human voice, transport of flickering pictures — in this century, as in others, our highest accomplishments still have the single aim of bringing men together.”