Seventy years after Rommel’s Afrika Korps and Monty’s Eighth Army were battling for control of North Africa, an RAF fighter plane belonging to Britain’s Desert Air Force was found in the Sahara Desert. According to the British newspaper The Telegraph (10 May 2012), the plane was an American-built Kittyhawk P-40 which had crashed in a remote region of the Sahara in June 1942. The wreckage of the downed fighter plane was recently discovered by a Polish oil company. There was no evidence of the pilot, and it is presumed he set out on foot and perished in the desert.
Perilous flights across sandy wastes have inspired novelists and movie producers alike, from Elleston Trevor’s 1964 novel The Flight of the Phoenix to Michael Ondaatje’s 1992 novel The English Patient. For the latter, Ondaatje received the Canadian Governor General’s Award and also the Booker Prize for Fiction. In 1997, the film version of The English Patient won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture.