Reading while flying… a St.X story

Antoine Saint-Exupery (AKA St.X) flew reconnaissance missions and the Lockheed P-38 Lightning was the type of plane he piloted in 1943. At that time, it was considered one of the fastest planes in existence — capable of speeds nearly twice that of a Bloch 174.

He had to fight to get qualified to fly it because there was an age restriction and he was 10 years too old. He was also nearly too tall. The cutoff was six feet four inches, which meant he had to be practically shoe horned into the cockpit.


Apparently,the Lightning’s speed “seemed both to intoxicate and to frighten Saint-Exupery, who could not get over the fact that Algiers and Tunis were now eighty-five minutes apart.”

Funny anecdote: He had been known to read while he flew.

“On July 6 he appeared immersed in a detective novel when he was meant to take a P-38 to Tunis. He read in the operations rooms as his aircraft was readied and continued to do so when he was called to the field. Ultimately a Jeep arrived to carry him off; he read all the way to the airstrip…”

On one occasion, he circled the Tunis airfield for nearly an hour before landing. He said afterward he could not have approached the runway with a clear head had he done so without having learned the identity of the novel’s culprit.”

Source: Saint-Exupery: A Biography by Stacy Schiff
Page 427-428

To learn more about St. X and his aviation background, go here.

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  1. Just curious. Did he write The Little Prince while he was flying around?

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