New Bach Book Celebrates Flight


Author Richard Bach, known for his stories about flying and most famous for the classic Jonathan Livingston Seagull, this week published a new book about a cross-country flight in his seaplane, Travels with Puff, A Gentle Game of Life and Death. “Could be that non-flyers would be startled at the trip, but the book was written for flyers, and for me,” Bach told AVweb in an email interview on Tuesday. The book, illustrated with photographs by fellow traveler Dan Nickens, describes how he learned to fly the SeaRey amphibian in Florida then flew it back to his home near Seattle. The story captures the adventure of facing new challenges, exploring new landscapes, and making new friends along the way.

The book treats Puff, the SeaRey, as a character with a personality of her own, a tradition in aviation writing that extends back at least to Charles Lindbergh. “Lindbergh talked about the spirit [of his airplane],” Bach wrote to AVweb. “We was the two of them, the pair of them, airplane and pilot. Sorry, I don’t know how it works. When a pilot takes care in difficult moments, I think, sees to fuel and oil before hamburger and potato chips, of that care and choice of kindness, makes a subtle friendship. Imagine her to speak to you, time to time she will. That’s my experience and speak she does, quiet with the hush of wind past her wings. I didn’t write her words, I heard them and set them down.”

Bach also wrote to AVweb about the accident last year that damaged the seaplane and sent him to the hospital with serious injuries. “Wish I could see what happened to Puff and me six months ago,” he wrote. “But I’d just be saying what others said. I had a lovely farm field for my landing, soft and beautiful. As I touched the grass the view went black, instantly. No pain, no inversion for Puff, no fire, no one risking their life to cut me clear and drag me out … no nothing till I waked in a hospital a week later. Looked like 15 minutes to me, I thought I was dreaming, and maybe I was.” The airplane will be restored and will fly again, he said. “Puff’s own life is no more in danger than mine.”

Bach also recently sent to his publisher a fourth part to his Jonathan Livingston Seagull story. “The fourth (and final) story was written with the first three parts, 40 some years ago,” Bach wrote. “I left it out since it seemed impossible. Time said you need to say it now.” Bach continues to recuperate at home in Washington. The book, Travels With Puff, is available today online and in bookstores.

(Photo courtesy of Julia McKinnell.)