Richard Bach is an interesting soul, his writing was instrumental in shaping my early flying aspirations – mine and probably several million others. One book in particular, A Gift of Wings, captured my imagination completely; I have lost count of the number of copies I have bought and either given away or had ‘appropriated’ over the years.
He made his name as far as the general public were concerned with Jonathan Livingstone Seagull and then (as far as I am concerned) in his later work rambled off into a line of thought that feels like it found its foundations from the hippy trail – just a bit too ethereal and disjointed for my taste.
Although JLS was an exceptional seller, for me A Gift of Wings stands out as his masterpiece. It is a collection of short stories, some based loosely around philosophical ideas but all tied tightly to the world of pure flight and the love of it. Funnily enough I have only just acquired another copy and am working my way back through it, the writing has lost nothing of its power; the odd shiver still weaves its way down my spine. Try ‘Cat’ for a taster….
Yes, his work might try the patience of the hardier, practically minded technocrats amongst us; but Jonathan Livingstone Seagull and A Gift of Wings will live forever as classic aviation literature and enthuse generations of kids (who want to clatter or soar around the sky so badly it hurts) for many generations to come.
A bit more from Wikipedia about Richard Bach
He served in the USAF Reserve as a pilot, and afterwards worked a variety of jobs. He later became a barnstormer. Most of his books involve flight in some way, from the early stories which are straightforwardly about flying aircraft to his later works in which he used flight as a philosophical metaphor. One of his greatest books that many pilots love is A Gift of Wings.
In 1970, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a story about a seagull who flew for the sake of flying rather than merely to catch food, was published by Macmillan Publishers after the manuscript was turned down by many other publishers. The book, which included unique photos of seagulls in flight, became a number one best-seller on both the fiction and non-fiction lists. The book contained fewer than 10,000 words, yet it broke all hardcover sales records since Gone with the Wind. It sold more than 1,000,000 copies in 1972 alone. The surprise success of the book was widely reported in the media in the early 1970s.
In 1973, the book was turned into a movie produced by Paramount Pictures Corporation. The movie included a soundtrack by Neil Diamond.