Richard Bach, of 'Jonathan Livingston Seagull,' Badly Hurt in Plane Crash

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TimeBach.jpgThe aviator-author Richard Bach is not as widely known now as he was a generation ago. But his book Jonathan Livingston Seagull was in the early 1970s far and away the best-selling novel in the United States. Here he is on the cover of Time in 1972, when was in his mid-30s. He is 76 years old now.

He has remained a very active pilot (and writer), as he discusses on his site. It appears that yesterday he was badly injured in the crash of his small airplane in the San Juan Islands northwest of Seattle. He was headed for a grass landing strip on San Juan Island itself and apparently caught power lines with his landing gear as he neared the runway. Here is an early news item that does not contain his name, a followup that says the plane is registered to one Richard D. Bach, and another, with crash-scene photos, saying that the injured pilot was indeed "the" Richard Bach.

Thanks to my friend aviator-author Bruce Williams for the alert on this unfortunate news. Later I will say more about Bach's work, which (like that of another very different aviator-author, Ernest K. Gann, who as it happens spent his later years on San Juan Island), deserves more attention and esteem than it usually receives these days. For the moment sympathies to his friends and family, and best wishes to him.


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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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