The Broussard is a transport aircraft that once belonged to the Royal Moroccan Airforce and flew mostly over North Africa. It reminded me of the adventures of Antoine de St.-Exupéry, the aviation pioneer and author of the legendary novel “The Little Prince”. I was a great admirer of “The Little Prince” and St.-Exupéry and wanted to dedicate a tribute to him by flying the identical route when he was pilot for the French Postal Service travelling down the West African coastline. I landed in almost the exact same place in the desert where he had to make an emergency landing. I regretted following St.-Exupéry’s experience so exactly as my Broussard got stuck in the sand and I was forced to rent two camels “in mating season” from the Tuareg people to pull the plane out of the dunes. You will never understand what absurdity means until you have seen two giant camels attempt to mate while supposedly pulling an aircraft out of the sand in the middle of a desert – and the weird sounds they made. I’m sure St.-Exupéry never met any camels during mating season or otherwise “The Little Prince” would have had a very different view on life. The flight over Morocco gave me a new understanding of St.-Exupéry’s words. I believe I finally understood what The Little Prince saw. He witnessed pure life which we no longer have time to appreciate.
I sought to combine my twin passions, film and aviation, by embarking on a series of what I describe as “poetic adventure films.” The first in this series, the 1995 TV-documentary, “The Desert Prince”, was conceived as a tribute to the pioneering French aviator Antoine de St.-Exupéry. “The Desert Prince” was subsequently broadcast on TV5, ARTE, and Canadian television. The next film in the series, “The White Leopard – On the Tracks of Ernest Hemingway” (1999), was dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Swissair and the centennial of Hemingway’s birth and served as a fictional account of a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, between Hemingway and two other legendary figures of the 20th century: Walter Mittelholzer, the Swiss aviation pioneer and founder of Swissair, and Baron Louis von Rothschild, the last of the Austrian Rothschilds. The story revolved around the myth of a white leopard that Hemingway described in the preface to his famous novel, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.” Even today, a flight over Kilimanjaro, which is 6,000 meters high, is a dangerous undertaking for a small aircraft. The best time to fly over the summit is the early morning when the air is still cold and dense as this allows the aircraft to fly higher than in warmer, lighter air. It is a constant struggle to get the aircraft to go higher and it is a relief to finally have cleared the summit. I documented my flight over Morocco with film and photo cameras. I shot thousands of pictures for the books “The Desert Prince” and “The White Leopard” showing the experiences of adventure. A similar book about The New 7 Wonders will be published soon.