On a lively street in the lovely city of Paris, a girl named Aída glanced up and was dazzled by the sight of an airship. Oh, how she wished she could soar through the sky like that! The inventor of the airship, Alberto, invited Aída to ride with him, but she didn’t want to be a passenger. She wanted to be the pilot. Aída was just a teenager, and no woman or girl had ever flown before. She didn’t let that stop her, though. All she needed was courage and a chance to try.
This story is the life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of Little Prince. He was born in France in 1900, when airplanes were just being invented. Antoine dreamed of flying and grew up to be a pilot—and that was when his adventures began. He found a job delivering mail by plane, which had never been done before. He and his fellow pilots traveled to faraway places and discovered new ways of getting from one place to the next. Antoine flew over mountains and deserts. He battled winds and storms. He tried to break aviation records, and sometimes he even crashed. From his plane, Antoine looked down on the earth and was inspired to write about his life and his pilot-hero friends in memoirs and in fiction. Peter Sís’s remarkable biography celebrates the author of The Little Prince, one of the most beloved books in the world.
While the Wright Brothers were gliding over Kitty Hawk, the charming Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont was making his own mark on the history of flight. Alberto loved floating over Paris in his personal flying machine called a dirigible. He would tie it to a post, climb down, and spend the day shopping or meeting friends for coffee. But he wanted to make his invention even better. By 1906, Alberto had transformed his balloon into a box with wings! But now there was competition. Another inventor challenged Alberto to see who would be the first in flight. Alberto’s hard work paid off, and his airplane successfully soared into the air, making him the first pilot to lift off and land a completely self-propelled plane.