31 July 1944, famed French aviator and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger, comte de Saint Exupéry), flying for the Free French Air Force (Forces Aériennes Françaises Libres), departed Borgo Airfield on the island of Corsica on a reconnaissance mission of the Rhône Valley. His aircraft was a Lockheed F-5B-1-LO Lightning, serial number 42-68223, an unarmed photo reconnaissance variant of the P-38J Lighting twin-engine fighter. He was never seen again.

Commandant Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Forces Aériennes Françaises Libres. (John Phillips)

In 1998 a fisherman found his silver identity bracelet in the sea south of Marseilles. Parts of the aircraft were recovered in 2003.

“Saint-Ex” wrote Night Flight, Flight to Arras, Wind, Sand and Stars and The Little Prince, as well as many other works. He was a gifted writer.

A pilot boards his Lockheed P-38 Lightning at sunset. (U.S. Air Force)

On the main photo: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry flying his Lockheed F-5B-1-LO Lightning near Alghero on the coast of Sardinia, 1944. (John e Annamaria Phillips Foundation)