Historical background

The history of aviation

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the author of the novella The Little Prince,  was born in 1900 and died in 1944. The early 1900s were a difficult time to grow up in, as Saint-Exupéry had to witness the First World War.

 Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was an enthusiastic pilot. Already in his childhood he designed a bicycle airplane, which he proudly presented to his siblings. Even at that time his enthusiasm for flying, which followed him throughout his life was evident. Despite several serious crashes both during the war and during peacetime, he continued to work as a pilot until his death. Saint-Exupéry was a passionate pilot who was only a part-time author.

The history of aviation begins with man's desire to be able to fly, a desire that already inspired Icarus. In the Renaissance period, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) designed various flying machines. Even though none of the models was airworthy, Da Vinci is considered a pioneer of aviation history .

In the 18th and 19th centuries, numerous scientists tried their hand at constructing models capable of flight, especially so-called gliders. The German mechanical engineer Otto Lilienthal is one of the first to succeed in flying a distance between 50 and 250 meters in gliding flight. Lilienthal died in 1896 when he was caught by a gust of wind during an attempted flight and crashed from a height of 15 meters. At that time, pilots were considered heroes, and sometimes even madmen, because flying was considered a very risky undertaking.

The first proven successful powered flight is attributed to the Wright brothers in 1903. In 1908, they demonstrate their first public powered flight in Le Mans and later also open their workshop there. As Saint-Exupéry was living in Le Mans at...

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