Fishing for Saint-Ex
There's something down there. And it may be Antoine De Saint-Exupéry's P-38.
- By Joseph Harriss
- Air & Space magazine, May 2001
(Page 4 of 4)
On May 12, 2000, Vanrell officially declared his find to the Maritime Affairs Office in Marseille, which duly forwarded the report to the local Department of Subaquatic and Underwater Archaeological Research, a branch of the Ministry of Culture. Initially, the culture ministry planned to hire Vanrell, Delauze, and others to undertake a 10-day study of the site: mapping, photographing, filming, and raising parts for examination. “We were ready to go,” recounts Delauze, “but suddenly the culture ministry said they’d had a call from the prime minister’s office: ‘Don’t touch it.’ ”
“For us at the culture ministry, this is not a scientific priority, and it would be very expensive,” Grenier de Monner says today. “And if we did excavate it, that could lead to requests by families who lost members during the war for us to do costly excavation of other wrecks. We don’t want to encourage that.”
Philippe Castellano is optimistic about breaking through the bureaucratic inertia. “This has now gone too far for anybody to stop it,” he says. But the ministry of culture’s Grenier de Monner disagrees: “Unless there’s a surprising, high-level political decision,” he says, “I don’t believe this excavation is going to happen.”
The simple quest for historical truth has produced a very complex French affaire. At stake is the future of the myth of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry—and the possibility of ever learning what really happened to him.