After 43 Years, Jonathan Livingston Seagull Finally Completed

Injured pilot-author returns to his roots.

Jonathan Living Seagull
Jonathan Living Seagull

Richard Bach's near-death experience six months ago has led him to finally finish his iconic novella, Jonathan Livingston Seagull. The book, published in 1970, was originally written in four parts, but only the first three were published. A former Flying writer, Bach has made final edits and sent the completed fourth part to his publisher, all while recovering from serious brain and spinal injuries suffered in the crash of his SeaRey amphibian last year on San Juan Island in Washington state.

On August 31, the author was flying to visit a friend when the airplane struck power lines and crashed. He was airlifted to a hospital by EMS helicopter in what is described as a textbook case of the lifesaving role medevac serves. The Airlift Northwest helicopter arrived on the scene 12 minutes after receiving the dispatch and flew Bach to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center in 18 minutes, where he was treated and remained in a coma for a week. To show his gratitude, Bach helped establish a foundation to support Airlift Northwest.

For the original novella, Bach tapped fellow Flying contributor Russell Munson for the book's photo illustrations. Jonathan Livingston Seagull topped the New York Times Best Seller list for 38 weeks and led the Publishers Weekly list of bestselling U.S. novels in 1972 and 1973.