Saint-Exupéry was a successful commercial pilot before World War II, working airmail routes in Europe, Africa and South America.
At the outbreak of war, he joined the French Air Force (Armée de l'Air), flying reconnaissance missions until France's armistice with Germany in 1940. After being demobilised from the French Air Force, he travelled to the United States to persuade its government to enter the war against Nazi Germany. Following a 27-month hiatus in North America, during which he wrote three of his most important works, he joined the Free French Air Force in North Africa, although he was far past the maximum age for such pilots and in declining health.
He disappeared over the Mediterranean on a reconnaissance mission in July 1944, and is believed to have died at that time. Prior to the war, Saint-Exupéry had achieved fame in France as an aviator.