Antoine de St-Exupery is a name that is easily recognizable thanks to his renown literary works such as The Little Prince. St-Exupery however, was not only an amazing writer but also a skilled pilot which contributed greatly in the early days of aviation.
His experience with aviation started in the aftermath of WWI after having learned how to fly through private lessons. He was transferred from the French Army to the recently created French Air Force in 1921 and posted in Morocco; a French colony at the time but he had to leave quickly after that due to his familial obligations.
At the time, l’Aeropostale was booming and extended its Airmail lines all the way to South America. Looking for the next adventure, St Exupery went down South in 1929. There he contributed to the development of Airmail routes all the way to Patagonia (extreme South of the continent). He quickly became the director of the Aeroposta Argentina in charge of organizing these perilous flights.
It is during this time that he wrote Vol de Nuit (Night flight) in 1932. The novel was based on his experiences in Argentina as an airmail pilot, inspiring the characters from the people surrounding him at the time.
At the start of WW2 he re-joined the French Airforce until the capitulation of France as Germany invaded. He escaped and joined the Free French Forces where he flew reconnaissance missions. However, his unit was disbanded, and he was left without a unit to fight in. He then decided to escape from France and go to the USA to ask for their help. Additionally, he wrote his most famous novel, Le Petit Prince in 1943 and is loosely based on a crash in the desert that he had experienced in 1935.
As the Allied forces started to re-focus on defeating the Axis forces in Europe, St-Exupery’s reconnaissance squadron was reconstituted and he started to conduct missions on a Lockheed P-38 Lightning . On July 31st 1944, he disappeared in the South of France while conducting what was supposed to be one of his last reconnaissance missions; marking his death and the end of a pioneer of aviation.
At Aeromat, we wanted to celebrate this mythical pilot which not only contributed to the development of Airmail but also to the world’s literary heritage. This is why we’ve decided to create our Vol de Nuit collection. Antoine de St-Exupery has been an inspiration for us and pushed us to recreate the experience that flying was in the 1920s and 30s through our watches.