Flight to Arras is a memoir recounting the author's role in the French Air Force as pilot of a reconnaissance plane during the Battle of France in 1940. The book condenses months of his flights into a single terrifying mission over the town of Arras. At the start of the war there were only fifty reconnaissance crews, of which twenty-three were in his unit. Within the first few days of the German invasion of France in May 1940, seventeen of the crews were sacrificed recklessly, he writes "like glasses of water thrown onto a forest fire". Saint-Exupéry survived the French defeat but refused to join the Royal Air Force over political differences with de Gaulle. In July 1944, "risking flesh to prove good faith", he failed to return from a recon mission over France.