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P_7878

A320 Corsica to Lyon & Remembering Saint-Exupery

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In aviation, we've sometimes heard of the saying, "There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots.” This observation is attributed to E. Hamilton Lee, one of the most remarkable pilots to come out of the U.S. Air Mail Service, itself, a fascinating segment of early aviation history in America.

Aviator (and author/philosopher) Saint-Exupery's short life (he died at the age of 44), replete with tales of adventure and courage, unfortunately fell into this above maxim.  But, his intrepid life (often plagued by accident-related injuries) was remarkable in many respects. He was a dreamer who wrote poems and novels, was obsessed with aviation and airplane, and, most importantly, loved and fantasized about deserts (which are considered acrid and dreary - in the normal parlance). Much of his literature is driven by his love and romance of the desert. He has said, "I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams...”. It had all started from his career as a pioneering aviator in the French postal service (the airmail carrier Aéropostale), flying mail in rather primitive planes (e.g. Breguet 14, Farman F.70, Latécoère 26/28 - all early French, if you wish to look up) with no radio - over the treacherous Andes Mountains, and the desolate and expansive Sahara deserts (at that time, populated by the nomadic tribes and fraught with general lawlessness). Saint Ex’s daredevil scrapes with death and heroic rescues of fellow downed pilots were legendary.

His (translated) memoir "Wind, Sand and Stars", is one of the most poignant books, I've personally ever read (a disturbing story of struggle and survival from certain and imminent death). His most significant literary work is "The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince)", which was published in 1943. One year after that, whilst flying his P-38 Lightning, on the morning of July 31st (1944), on a photo-reconnaissance mission, he mysteriously disappeared over the sea with no trace - alone aboard his unarmed plane, but with enough fuel for a six-hour flight (radar contact with his aircraft was lost just five minutes after take-off).

44 years later, in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Marseille, a fisherman’s net snared a silver bracelet engraved with Saint-Exupéry’s name. Following that lead six years later, a scuba-diver, exploring the Sea near Marseille, finally brought up the smashed bits of Saint Ex’s P-38 plane...but no trace of him: technical problems, pilot error, shot down by the enemy??? - to this day, the true cause of his death remains unknown and a mystery!

Here, I've set up a memory-evoking flight (but not identical to his) from the same airport, Bastia – Poretta (LFKB), in the island of Corsica, that he had taken off from, on the morning of July 31, 1944. However, I'm flying, here, the French Regional Airline Air Corsica livery Airbus A320, far cry from the P-38 that he flew, but, nonetheless, roaming the same (virtual) Corsican skies, probably also brightened same as that day by the morning Sun in today's (virtual) flight.

Air Corsica has now regularly scheduled flights between Corsica and Lyon. I've done a fresh installation of this AS A320 (have been meaning to do that since a long time, after earlier completing A318/A319 for which I'd provided posts, A318 being one of my favorites). I've also attempted to refresh my skills/memory of a cold & dark start-up procedure. This flight-plan would seamlessly take me to the destination Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport (LFLL), the airport of his birthplace (Lyon), that would be finally named after him in 2000, 100 years after his birth, and 56 years after his final flight. But, I've opted to end this post/report, once the cruise altitude is reached (please see last image), leaving the rest to imagination...did not have inclination to report any further progress here, in the context of this story. Thanks for viewing/reading. [AS(A320)/MSE(Italy)/REX]

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Edited by P_7878
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