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International Context The Line Through the Eyes of...

The Toulouse-Santiago line stirred up people's imaginations more than any other aerial initiative in Europe, Africa or even North America. Famous propagandists, writers and journalists, among others, helped create the legend and maintain the myth.

Mermoz

"Aviation, which has spread the realm of death to the skies, and which sometimes shatters the silence of infinite space with the sound of machine-guns, is, before God, justifiable and has great reason to exist: it provides an outlet for the restless need we have to go beyond ourselves - is this not the greatness of God's creation? When a nation doubts itself, it needs to hear whispered the name "Mermoz," for it to recognize its highest virtue: To be the daughter of God!"

François Mauriac,
Le flambeau, January 16, 1937

"And so, Mermoz had conquered sands, mountains, nights and seas. Yet more than once he had been betrayed by sands, mountains, nights and seas. And when he came back, it was only to leave again."

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, L'intransigeant, January 22, 1937

"I have known the anguish of thirst after a fire during flight over the Arabian Desert. I have known captivity among the Moors. I have felt the embrace of the Andes for four days. I have broken down over the South Atlantic, and once also in the virgin forest of Brazil. I have experienced a sea landing during a storm over the Mediterranean, as well as a parachute fall after an engine failure over Toulouse... What else could I experience now?"

Jean Mermoz, letter written in Marseille, March 12 ,1932

Saint-Exupéry

"He had this fault, common, I believe, among pilots, and which became for them some kind of "professional habit." For him, the true meaning of life could only be found in the excitement and real freedom of danger. He had, however, outgrown the age of recklessness, and reached the retirement age, but rest, peace, comfort - all those things others wished for - were for him a burden. 'Down-to-earth,' conventional happiness was not for him; nothing seemed worthy of him, except for a never-ending heroism. He had miraculously evaded perilous dangers on several occasions, and had, in fact, become addicted to it. A compelling sense of duty, of a mission to accomplish, the inner desire to make a difference in other people's lives, also boldly pushed him forward..."

André Gide, Saint-Exupéry, 1951



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