View Full Version : Saint-Exupery

16th Mar 2008, 13:07
In the media an 88 year old ex Luftwaffe pilot Horst Rippert has come forward to claim shooting down the great writer and pilot St.Ex flying a Me109 G-6 of 3/Jgr.200 based at Aix -En- Provence on 31 July 1944.
With the finding of the wreckage of the P-38 off Marseille this is probably the last chapter.

17th Mar 2008, 03:56
There is some question over this. Why has this person only now bought this too light,in conjunction with a book launch ? And as you say there would have been cine gun film evidence and post intelligence reports. Holding on this one to see what transpires further !

17th Mar 2008, 10:54
This is not the first time a Luftwaffe pilot believe to have shot St.Ex down....
The P38 was said to be very very difficult to intercept during a reconaissance flight,and I had read that only the Fw190 TU had a chance to make it.
This Me109 pilot reports he spotted the P38 under him,changing direction. Maybe was the P38 already in trouble ?

17th Mar 2008, 12:12
Never heard of a fighter pilot thinking he may have shot something down and not claiming a 'kill'.

I believe the wrekage of the aircraft was found a few years back and there was no evidence of gunfire. However, there is a theory that his death was suicide following claims by the Free French that he was some kind of traitor.

His death was in any case a great loss if for no other reason than the fact that he had other great books still to write.

Brian Abraham
17th Mar 2008, 12:33
From AVweb today
Saint Exupery Mystery Solved?

Has the final chapter been written in one of the great aviation mysteries? A former Luftwaffe pilot says he shot down Antoine de Saint Exupery as the French writer, considered by some to be the greatest aviation author, flew his P-38 off the coast of France in 1944. But Horst Rippert, now 88, who claimed 28 victories during the Second World War, says he never would have opened fire if he’d known his favorite author was at the controls. "If I had known it was Saint-Exupery, I would never have shot him down,” Rippert told the London Daily Telegraph. "He knew admirably how to describe the sky, the thoughts and feelings of pilots. His work inspired many of us to take up our vocation."

Apparently Rippert has kept the secret all these years and gave it up after being tracked down by Luc Vanrell, a diver who found the wreck of Saint Exupery’s aircraft in 1998, and a war researcher named Lino van Gartzen. Saint Exupery was flying for the Free French from Corsica and was on a reconnaissance flight when Rippert said he spotted the Lightning from above and it was easy prey for his Me-109. Many believed the writer, who penned such classics as Pilote de Guerre (Flight to Arras), had committed suicide, but there has also been a persistent theory that he was shot down.

17th Mar 2008, 20:05
Whatever the cause, it was one of the greatest losses to the literary/aviation world.

I have been madly in love with Antoine de Saint-Exupery since I read "The Little Prince." Even though it was originally penned as a childrens' book, the profundity of his message is something all of us should inherit: It is with the heart that one can see rightly - what is important is invisible to the eye.

Exupery deserved those epulets on his shoulder...but the ones on his heart is how I choose to remember him.

I have actually started a compendium of writing called "Letters to Antoine." It is less about the mechanics of flight - more about the metaphor. His hand may have been on the stick, but what he was truly grasping was the magic of the pen.

17th Mar 2008, 20:35
Amongst various theories trying to explain this "mystery" we also can find an oxygen supply failure.Another thing, is that his flight plan normally had to send him much more easterly of Marseille, in the Alps mountains near Annecy.
The suicide theory was also based on the fact that he knew this flight would have been his last war-time air mission. High ranked officers had decided to let him know about secret plan of Provence allied landing. This knowledge would have automatically removed him from flight schedule (risk of "talking" if beeing made captive)
It is true that his behaviour was controversed amongst the free French community as he didn't shared De gaulle's ideas (as many others !). But those mean spirits who declared him as a traitor usually didn't went missing in action but ended their days in bed instead.
It is true that no evidence of gun shots have been found on the wreck but very few of it have been recovered.

17th Mar 2008, 22:56
The P38 was said to be very very difficult to intercept during a reconaissance flight,and I had read that only the Fw190 TU had a chance to make it.

There is some possibility that either he had been shot at earlier in that flight or was recceeing an area becoming known to the Luftwaffe, who had been succesful intercepting before there..

Having recently been on an enforced no-flying period, he'd also be not well practised. Without his great renown and influence, no doubt he wouldn't have been allowed to fly again, but was definitely committed to facing the enemy head on, so pushed to resume flying.

17th Mar 2008, 23:17
Apart from anything else his name had a 'ring' to it and his "Night Flight" opened my eyes to

the romance/dangers of early long distance flying. I shared his birthday [June 29th - not the

year!] but sadly not his literary skills - dammit! :rolleyes:

18th Mar 2008, 12:14
Am I missing something here... ?? This is not new news surely. Pretty sure that Richard Bach refers to this guy (though not by name) in one of his books... unfortunately the bulk of my library is currently in storage so I'm unable to ferret out exactly where it's mentioned.

Double Zero
19th Mar 2008, 18:05
I've read 'Wind Sand and Stars' and was utterly enthralled, a true pilot ( and handling a P-38 is not a job for fairies, seems to me ) - but I have a nasty feeling that St.Ex had the heart of a lion, but maybe not the fighting skills of one - there was also a drink issue which he had to fight hard and use all his influence while grounded to convince the local S/C he had overcome.

His loss sadly reminds me of Warburton, the spectaularly successful recce' pilot from Malta who found out the hard way that such missions over Europe were a whole different ball-game with much more nasty defences.

I don't beleive the term ' traitor ' should be breathed in connection with Antoine St.Ex, but then again I never exactly had the honour to fly with him, did I ?!

19th Mar 2008, 18:30
There are some questions rising in french aviation press at the reading of Rippert's book.....
- The first one is: why did he wait so long before declearing this victory ?
- Then why no record of this event can be found in Luftwaffe archives of this day ?
- Rippert's log book cannot be found (...or no input of this day)

I haven't read this book myself, and I wouldn't dare to doubt about Rippert's genuine report, but maybe the book's editor decided some modification for a better "scoop" effect.
It is difficult to check the basis of these questions, but I believe that a deeper investigation is required in order to make the difference between a fiction book and an historic report.

19th Jun 2019, 12:13
Much remembered in France with schools and airfields named for him