Illinois native and author of the beloved 1970s fable “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” Richard Bach was critically injured in a landing accident on San Juan Island Friday, August 31, 2012 close to 4 p.m. local time.
According the Seattle Times The plane that carried Bach clipped some power lines and crashed upside down in a field about two miles from “Friday Harbor,” taking down two poles and the 76-year-old Bach, who lives on the island, was left dangling upside down by his harness. Additionally, the crash sparked a small grass fire. A group of campers cut him free and called for help.
The author was landing at a private airport and the landing gear caught the lines while flying N346PE, a 2008 Easton Gilbert G SEAREY C/N 1DK425C, that he nicknamed “Puff.” The 76-year-old author is reported to be in critical but stable condition.
Richard Bach, a resident of Orcas Island,” is lucky to be alive today following the crash. His survival can be attributed to the immediate helicopter airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Bach’s 1970 book was a runaway bestseller. It tells the story of a restless seagull who rejects conformity and soars above the flock both physically and spiritually.
Since the crash we’ve learned that Bach was an avid aviator who touched on themes of flight and enlightenment in his writings, according to Associated Press.
At 3:55 p.m. San Juan County 9-1-1 received calls about an airplane down in the San Juan Valley area on San Juan Island.
Responders found the airplane upside down in a field and a grass fire that had been sparked by power lines.
Right away campers discovered that Bach was the only occupant of the aircraft, which had suffered major damage, but there was no fire at the crash site.
Sheriff Rob Nou reports the preliminary investigation indicates the pilot was attempting to land on a grass airstrip, caught a set of overhead power lines with the landing gear as he came in for a landing. The power lines were hit with such force it broke at least two nearby poles that dropped live wires and started a fire approximately ¼ mile away.
Power was disrupted in the area, and will remain out for several hours. It may be a Friday on a three day weekend, but OPALCO utility crews were quickly on site, resetting poles and repairing the downed lines. San Juan Valley Road remains closed until the lines are cleared and secured.
On Bach’s personal website, friends expressed dismay at the news.
Now for the moment sympathies to his friends and family, and best wishes to him.
As is normal in all airplane crashes, the National Transportation Safety Board and FAA will investigate the crash.