Posted by Lex, on March 17th, 2008
Anyone that has ever flown an airplane and then dared to try to explain the experience owes a patronymic debt to Antoine de Saint Exupery, author of “The Little Prince,” poet and fighter pilot for Free France in World War II. He never returned from his last mission, a reconnaissance flight over the Rhone during preparations for an Allied assault. His disappearance has been a mystery for over 60 years.
It seems at last this mystery may have been solved:
A former German World War II fighter pilot has claimed he shot down French literary hero Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of The Little Prince, 63 years after the event.
“If I had known it was Saint-Exupéry I would never have shot him down,” said Mr Rippert.
“He knew admirably how to describe the sky, the thoughts and feelings of pilots”, he added.
Yes. Yes, he did.
The job has its grandeurs, yes. There is the exultation of arriving safely after a storm, the joy of gliding down out of the darkness of night or tempest toward a sun-drenched Alicante or Santiago; there is the swelling sense of returning to repossess one’s place in life, in the miraculous garden of earth, where are trees and women and, down by the harbor, friendly little bars. When he has throttled his engine and is banking into the airport, leaving the somber cloud masses behind, what pilot does not break into song?
— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, ‘Night Flight,‘ 1933.