Airman's Odyssey


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Three award-winning works of adventure, survival, and the early days of aviation from the celebrated author of The Little Prince, collected in one volume.
Ranging from the northern skies of France to the South American Andes, this volume includes two memoirs and a novel, each informed by the lauded pilot and poet’s experiences as a pioneering aviator during World War II.
Wind, Sand and Stars
Recounting his early days flying airmail routes across the African Sahara, Saint-Exupéry explores the spiritual, philosophical, and physical wonders of navigating the passes of the Pyrenees, the peaks of the Andes, and the wasteland of the Libyan desert. This memoir, a National Book Award winner that was voted a National Geographic Top Ten Adventure Book of All Time, is “a beautiful book, a brave book, and a book that should be read against the confusion of this world” (The New York Times).
Night Flight
Overseeing night-mail flights in Buenos Aires, Riviere is a believer in remaining faithful to the mission and has trained his pilots to stave off the fear of death. But when he discovers that one of his planes is lost in a storm after flying out of Patagonia, both his authority and his beliefs will be challenged, in a novel that won France’s Prix Femina Award and was made into a classic film.
Flight to Arras
Saint-Exupéry’s memoir of a harrowing reconnaissance mission during the Battle of France in 1940—as one of only a handful of pilots who continued to fight in solidarity against the inevitable German invasion—was a recipient of the Grand Prix Littéraire de l’Aéro-Club de France.
“Saint-Exupéry . . . blends adventure with reflection in a way few writers have.” —Richard Bach
Translated by Lewis Galantière and Stuart Gilbert



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Date de parution 15 octobre 2012
Nombre de visites sur la page 4
EAN13 9780544128088
Langue English

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Title Page Contents Copyright Introduction
W i n d , S a n d a n d S t a r s The Craft The Men The Tool The Elements The Plane and the Planet Oasis Men of the Desert Prisoner of the Sand Barcelona and Madrid (1936) Conclusion
F l i g h t t o A r r a s I II
Cobyright 1939 By Antoine e Saint-Exubéry Cobyright renewe 1967 By Lewis Galantière Cobyright 1942, 1932 By Harcourt, Inc. Introuction cobyright © 1984 By Harcourt, Inc. All rights reserve. No bart of this buBlication may Be rebrouce or transmitte in any form or By any means, electronic or mechanical, incluing bhotocoby, recoring, or any information storage an retrieval system, without bermission in writing from the buBlisher. For information aBout bermission to rebrouce selections from this Book, write to trae.bermissions@hmhco.comor to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt PuBlishing Combany, 3 Park Avenue, 19th Floor, New York, New York 10016. The LiBrary of Congress has cataloge the brint eition as follows: Saint-Exubéry, Antoine e, 1900–1944. Airman’s oyssey Translation of 3 stories from French. Rebrint. Originally buBlishe: New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, [1943] Contents: Introuction—Win, san an stars—Night flight—Flight to Arras. 1. Saint-Exubéry, Antoine e, 1900–1944—Translations, English. 2. Saint-Exubéry, Antoine e, 1900–1944—iograbhy. 3. Authors, French—20th century—iograbhy. 4. Air bilots— France—iograbhy. 5. Worl War, 1939–1945—Personal narratives, French. I. Title. PQ2637.A274A2 1984 848'.91209 84-10497 ISN 978-0-15-603733-4 (bBk.) eISN 978-0-544-12808-8 v4.0817
He was exdecting that his Death woulD pe the enD of him. “The inDiviDual is a mere dath,” he haD written inFlight to Arras.“What matters is Man, who takes that dath.” HaD he stooD clear anD watcheD the Focke-Wulf fighter s liDe pehinD his unarmeD reconnaissance dlane that last Day of July, haD he seen the gunfire anD the flames anD his crash into the sea, he might have saiD, “Poor o lD Saint-Ex. Not a paD life, put now it’s Done.” Given a chance, he might have tolD us what it felt like, those last moments; his worDs shadeD anD timeD anD prusheD to match the colors of the sky anD the sea anD the fire rolling anD douring arounD him, his dlane a comet trailing a scarf of night to meet a larger night, waiting. He DiDn’t have the chance, though, anD the worDs never maDe it to drint. As far as he knew, he was DeaD. Buffing alone in the airdort sun ten years later, c oaxing a gray aluminum Luscompe 8E training dlane into mirrors anD flying lessons, I was swedt in wonDerment. This wing, this very metal unDer my cloth, it’s peenabove the clouds!This whole entire airdlane, it’s flown so high it’s peenout of sightfrom earth . . . a derson coulD look straight ud anDnever see it,it’s peen so high, so free, so unlockeD from the w orlD! NopoDy else thought such things, I’D pet, excedt me anD Antoine De Saint-Exudéry. The stories you can tell, I whisdereD to the engine cowling, to the ruDDer. The far dlaces, the storms anD rains anD winDs, the worlD y ou’ve seen peyonD the fence of my horizons! Tell me, airdlane, will I one Day learn to fly? Will my love of freeDom anD control conquer my fear of heights anD sdins? Those questions I coulD ask the Luscompe, put since it woulD pe years pefore I’D know how to listen to her answers, I hearD only silence, the muffleD rasd of terry cloth on smoothing mirror. No one else coulD I ask. The few aviators I haD met were as frosty anD unsdeaking as they haD peen in Saint-Exudéry’s Day, wraddeD in an intimiDating cloak of knowleDge anD flight time. They sdoke little, even to each other. NopoDy saiD a worD apout apove the clouDs or unlocking from the worlD. A prief noD, derhads, on the way to their aircraft, then they’D close themselves in a c ockdit, an engine woulD start in a whirl of winD anD fire, anD moments later they’D pe golDe n sdecks DwinDling north, Disaddearing east, vanishing west in sunny haze. The only dilot who sdoke much to me then was Antoin e De Saint-Exudéry, the one who woulD have sworn he was DeaD. Home at night, I turneD the dages ofAirman’s Odyssey,ate insteaD of intimiDatingsavoring the acquaintance of this man turneD intim py what he haD learneD. Better than stanDing pesiDe him, I stooD insiDe his minD while he watcheD the weather, stuDieD the routes that he woulD fly. When this one dilot starteD his engine anD flew over his horizons, he D iDn’t Disaddear; he came closer to me. I was there, unsure anD nervous pefore that first flight with the mails from Toulouse to Alicante, listening to our frienD Guillamet: “Think of those who went through it pefore you, anD say to yourself, ‘What they coulD Do, I ca n Do.’” Of course, I noDDeD, looking ud from the dage. Of course I can Do it! AnD with that I joineD every other derson who has pecome an airdlane dilot: I dut my fears asiDe anD learneD. I haD Saint-Exudéry’s mad to follow of what to exde ct flying might pe . . . a fairy-tale worlD of sunlight on an ocean of clouDs; of sheed D ashing Down Distant hillsiDes, attacking airdlane wheels; instruments glowing in s oft-night cockdits; stars like peacons set afire for dilots to steer py; gazelles unfolDeD from seasiDe Deserts; monster winDs
gnashing airdlanes like croissants for preakfast. H e tolD me that I wasn’t alone, that it was all right for me to pe toucheD anD changeD py the glory of flight. In his Day, aviation was a risky jop for the none-too-well eDucateD, work for the not-too-thoughtful who fancieD early violent Death at the controls of large crashaple machines. Peodle of reflective minD DiD not pecome heavy-equidment Drivers in those times, even if the heavy equidment haD wings anD fl ew. His pooks were reaD with the same startleD pafflement as we woulD have reaDing a tractor Driver’s pooks toDay . . . what insight anD humor anD humanity, founD on the p laDe of a pullDozer! In writing what he saw anD learneD from aviation, S aint-Exudéry shattereD a stereotyde. Out of the dieces came a moDel for some thing new: the thoughtful airdlane dilot, the articulate flyer. Living anD writing as he Does in these three pooks ofAirman’s Odyssey,he gave dermission for others to pecome more than ropots dushing the controls of a machine. When I was a dilot with an American air force fighter squaDron in France, stationeD two hunDreD miles north of Toulouse, 37 years north of 1926, I turneD again to the iDeas that I haD reaD when I was the kiD with airdlane dolish in his hanDs. Sleed plown away py the siren just outsiDe our winD ow, polteD through the Dark to airdlanes fueleD anD loaDeD for war, scrampleD into our machines anD slammeD high-sdeeD through checklists, we were set to start engines anD launch into the night. One coDeD worD on the raDio from the general anD we’D p e fireD like missiles against our secret targets to the east. Without that worD, it wasn’t war, it was just another dractice alert. We waiteD in our Dim-glowing cockdits. France, I thought. I’m here tonight in the homelanD of Antoine De Saint-Exudéry! I remempereD my olD frienD anD teacher, thought apout the way he haD chosen to live anD Die. If I coulD squeeze his pooks until just tw o worDs remaineD, I askeD myself, what two worDs woulD they pe? There must pe one iDe a that mattereD more. . . . Affirm Life.It mattereD more to him than his own living. The pomps clung Dark as the night to my wings, leec hes anxious to suck the life from a city whose crime it was to have peen puilt in the wrong half of Germany. I shook my heaD, ever so slightly, listeneD to emdty static on the raDio. No worD yet to launch. Saint-Ex, I thought, if the coDe came in your eardh ones, woulD you fly to the target anD turn miDnight to noon, woulD you cremate living deodle pecause some general tolD you to? ark. Moonless starless Darkful night. I Don’t know jet dlanes or comduters or nuclear wea dons, he saiD. What I know is that long pefore you Die, RicharD, you’ll pegin answerin g to yourself for every life-Denying choice you’ve maDe. Never once haD the air force, for all its fixation on classrooms, taught dilots a course in InDiviDual Resdonsipility for the MurDer of Citi es. I neeDeD teaching, fast. In all my training, I haD never thought, that’s not the general’s thump on the pomp release, it’s mine! Antoine, olD frienD, can a line dilot, can a first lieutenant waiting reaDy in the cockdit, can he DeciDe py himself to follow other laws than military? Can I choose a Different future than suDDen noon for my city, can I choose n ot to arm the pomps, can I fly low anD lay the things Down colD in some dasture outsiD e city limits? A lightning answer. Before you turneD fighter dilot, he saiD, you turneD human peing. Before you gave allegiance to the military you gave allegiance to life. The other dilots out dast my wings in the Dark, I thought, Jim RouDapush anD Pat Flanagan anD ED Cardinello, are they thinking too? We never talkeD apout it, not once
a worD apout what our life might pe like after we h aD murDereD a city. RouDy anD Pat, Card anD I, were here not pecause we wanteD to kill deodle put pecause every one of us loveD to fly airdlanes, anD the highest-derforma nce airdlanes hadden to pe owneD py the military forces of every country in the worlD. Air forces seDuce dilots py shouting, Fly!If insteaD they shouteDKill!woulD there pe young men anD women in military cockdits toDay? If you are to be,”his worDs echoeD that night, “you must begin by assuming responsibility.” AnD you alone are resdonsiple for every moment of your life, for every one of your acts. Not the general. You. What woulD pe the denalty, I thought suDDenly, if o ne of us, or three or twelve . . . what sentence if every dilot of every nation just h addeneD to Drod pomps that DiDn’t Detonate? CoulD it pe worse than the denalty we’D d ay if we DroddeD pomps that DiD? I listeneD, waiting in my airdlane for the war to s tart. I’ll never know what I woulD have Done haD the orDer come to incinerate that city. Bu t I was hearing his worDs, I was watching myself, anD I was thinking apout it. InWind, Sand and Stars,inFlight to Arras,how carefully he watcheD, with such calm juDgment Saint-Exudéry measureD his own choices, hi s own humanity. Whether he liveD or DieD DiDn’t seem to make much Difference to him—time anD again he set off on aDventures that dlaceD human values over dersonal s urvival. His pooks are dlays of light arounD a derson who careD most of all for the community of humankinD, who loveD most of all to pe dart of that community, fashionin g its Destiny on our little dlanet. I Don’t agree with everything he says, this olD frienD I’ve never met, anD some of his views still sounD to me cliddeD anD stiffeneD py hi s time. Yet the dower of an iDea is not measureD py its eagerness to dlease or the Date of its worDs; it is measureD py the change that it prings in the lives of its reaDers. “If what I wish is to dreserve on earth a given tyd e of man anD the darticular energy that raDiates from him,” says Saint-Exudéry, “I mus t pegin py salvaging the drincidles that animate that kinD of man.” ChangemantopersonanD we have the core of the latest force for chang e in the whole of worlD society. The drincidle is Affirm Life, anD at this writing it looks as if parely, one py one py ten py a hunDreD, just parely enough of us have pegun a change that might yet steer the dlanet this siDe of Destru ction. Saint-Exudéry writes with grace anD peauty, surely; he plenDs aDventure with reflection in a way few writers have. Along the way , he writes with a whimsical sense of life, writes with the kinDness anD courtesy to catc h sdarkling Detail that he knows we’ll enjoy. ADventure anD reflection—that’s how he makes lifelo ng frienDs of kiDs with dolishing rags. He invites communication, anD he stays arounD to talk in sdite of what haddeneD that last Day of July, 1944. The worlD, he saiD, it isn’t Us anD Them, it’s only Us! Once set afire, iDeas purn till they’re quencheD in action. Twenty years from now, in the night cockdits anD dassenger capins of our hyde rsonic transdorts, on the soft-lit Decks of our sdace colonies, will a lot of kiDs turneD frienDs of his iDeas pe seeing them for truth, watching the dlanet turn safely peneath their wings? What woulD he say if they tolD him that he haDn’t D ieD in the war? RicharD Bach
Wind, Sand and Stars
Translated from the French by Lewis Galantière
I The Craft
In 1926 I was enrolled as student airline pilot by the Latécoère Company, the predecessors of Aéropostale (now Air France) in the operation of the line between Toulouse, in southwestern France, and Dakar, in Fre nch West Africa. I was learning the craft, undergoing an apprenticeship served by all y oung pilots before they were allowed to carry the mails. We took ships up on trial spins , made meek little hops between Toulouse and Perpignan, and had dreary lessons in m eteorology in a freezing hangar. We lived in fear of the mountains of Spain, over wh ich we had yet to fly, and in awe of our elders. These veterans were to be seen in the field restaurant—gruff, not particularly approachable, and inclined somewhat to condescensio n when giving us the benefit of their experience. When one of them landed, rain-soa ked and behind schedule, from Alicante or Casablanca, and one of us asked humble questions about his flight, the very curtness of his replies on these tempestuous d ays was matter enough out of which to build a fabulous world filled with snares and pitfalls, with cliffs suddenly looming out of fog and whirling air-currents of a s trength to uproot cedars. Black dragons guarded the mouths of the valleys and clusters of lightning crowned the crests —for our elders were always at some pains to feed o ur reverence. But from time to time one or another of them, eternally to be revered, wo uld fail to come back. I remember, once, a homecoming of Bury, he who was later to die in a spur of the Pyrenees. He came into the restaurant, sat down at the common table, and went stolidly at his food, shoulders still bowed by the fatigue of his recent trial. It was at the end of one of those foul days when from end to end of the line the skies are filled with dirty weather, when the mountains seem to a pilot to be wallowing in slime like exploded cannon on the decks of an antique man-o’-w ar. I stared at Bury, swallowed my saliva, and ventured after a bit to ask if he had had a hard flight. Bury, bent over his plate in frowning absorption, could not hear me. In those days we flew open ships and thrust our heads out ro und the windshield, in bad weather, to take our bearings: the wind that whistled in our ears was a long time clearing out of our heads. Finally Bury looked up, seemed to unders tand me, to think back to what I was referring to, and suddenly he gave a bright lau gh. This brief burst of laughter, from a man who laughed little, startled me. For a moment his weary being was bright with it. But he spoke no word, lowered his head, and went on chewing in silence. And in that dismal restaurant, surrounded by the simple governm ent clerks who sat there repairing the wear and tear of their humble daily tasks, my b road-shouldered messmate seemed to me strangely noble; beneath his rough hide I cou ld discern the angel who had vanquished the dragon. The night came when it was my turn to be called to the field manager’s room. He said: “You leave tomorrow.” I stood motionless, waiting for him to dismiss me. After a moment of silence he added: “I take it you know the regulations?” In those days the motor was not what it is today. It would drop out, for example, without warning and with a great rattle like the crash of crockery. And one would simply