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Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Writer / Aviator

Born: 29 June 1900
Died: 31 July 1944 (airplane crash)
Birthplace: Lyon, France
Best known as: Author of The Little Prince
Antoine-Marie-Roger de Saint-Exupéry was a French aviator and the author of the children's fable The Little Prince (1943). A veteran of France's air service (1921-23), he spent most of his working life in commercial aviation. He flew postal routes across Spain into Africa -- he survived a 1935 crash in the Sahara -- and flew in Brazil and Argentina for a time. He also wrote novels. Southern Mail (1929), Night Flight (1931) and Wind, Sand and Stars (1939) brought him critical and popular success. He flew for the French at the beginning of World War II, but with Germany's occupation of France Saint-Exupéry relocated to the U.S. and Canada, where he wrote his most famous work, The Little Prince. Despite being a little too old to fly, he joined the Free French and Allied air forces toward the end of World War II. He went on a mission to collect information on German troop movements in the Rhone valley on 31 July 1944 and was never seen again; Saint-Exupéry became France's own Amelia Earhart. His aircraft was discovered in the late 1990s off the coast of Marseilles, but his corpse was missing. Former German ace pilot Horst Rippert claimed in 2008 that he was nearly certain he'd shot down Saint Exupéry in 1944 (Rippert also expressed regret, calling Saint Exupéry one of his favorite authors at the time).

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