Richard Bach: ‘Seagull’ author improving after Wash. plane crash

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SEATTLE (AP) — Best-selling author Richard Bach, who is best known for writing “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” remains in serious condition at a Seattle hospital, but his son on Sunday said he’s making improvements.

Mr. Bach was taken to Harborview Medical Center after his small plane crashed Friday about three miles west of Friday Harbor Airport in Washington state. A nursing supervisor on Sunday said Mr. Bach was in serious condition.

Mr. Bach’s son, James Bach, said Sunday that his father clearly is lucid, is responding to doctors and people around him, and has good cognitive function. The younger Mr. Bach said he hopes his 76-year-old father’s recovery will be swift.

Richard Bach, who was flying alone, suffered a head injury and broken shoulder after his single-engine amphibian aircraft clipped power lines.

 

In “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” published in 1970, Mr. Bach wrote of a philosophically minded seagull seeking to rise above the flock, which is focused on the dull regimen of finding food scraps. Jonathan is banished from the group, only to come upon more enlightened gulls who guide him to spiritual lessons, which Jonathan then imparts to others.

The short, simply crafted book gained little to no critical attention upon publication but rose to No. 1 for several weeks on the New York Times best-seller list, and Mr. Bach quickly drew a loyal following.

Mr. Bach has been a pilot for his adult life, often touching on his experience in the cockpit of his beloved plane in his writings. Besides “Seagull,” his other popular works include “Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah,” a mystical story of a Midwestern barnstorming pilot’s quest for self-discovery.

He often links the practice of flying to themes of a deeper spiritual quest.

“Dad described his religion as flying. He’s a very avid aviator,” James Bach said earlier. “It would be terrible if he recovers and can’t fly again — this guy needs to fly.”

Richard Bach moved to Washington state’s remote San Juan Islands more than 20 years ago, living on Orcas Island, his son said. The scenic San Juans are a pastoral spot about 100 miles northwest from Seattle, reachable by ferry or plane.

Richard Bach wrote on his website Tuesday that it was “joyfully astonishing, how quick civilization can disappear when little Puff wants to be a boat and take me with her, the two of us gone off alone with the sea and the sky.”

Puff is the name of his 2008 Easton Gilbert Searey, which he was flying when he crashed. This past month Mr. Bach posted videos of his aircraft landing on water next to nearby islands.

“It’s probably time to get back to non-flying themes, but Puff and I’ve been flying just about every day,” he wrote.

Associated Press reporter Mark Evans contributed from Phoenix.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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