Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944) was a French aviator and author, famous for writing and illustrating the philosophical picture book The Little Prince, which is the most-read and translated book in the French language and was voted France’s greatest book of the 20th century.

Saint-Exupéry began flying when he joined the French Air Force in 1921. By 1926 he had left the army and helped pioneer some of the first air-mail routes between Paris and Dakar. In 1935, while trying to break the speed record between Paris and Saigon, he crashed and was left stranded in the Sahara desert for three days with a minimum of supplies. Although the experience almost killed him, it became the inspiration for the opening scene in The Little Prince. Saint-Exupéry later flew reconnaissance missions during World War II even though he was eight years above the maximum age and, after leaving for a mission on 31 July, 1944, was never seen again.

– Thanks to Nathanial, Adam and Jacob for submitting this.