Here we have a three-some of aviation tales from Jonathan Livingston Seagull author and flyer Richard Bach. Bach's trilogy begins with a mission across peacetime Europe in an Air Force F-84, to deliver documents to a certain high-ranking officer. In standard Bach fashion, the flight is explained, expounded, extrapolated and explored through the eyes of a man infatuated with his craft, both Air Craft and writing craft. Bach doesn't board the airplane; he steps inside the machine, wraps himself in it, becomes one with the guts and grit and metallic gadgetry that appears to anyone not in love with flying to be a simple airplane.
Bach writes with the deft pen of someone who knows the value of panache, and the peril of overcompensation. In other words, he writes much like a skilled pilot flies his craft. He prepares his flight plan as an outline; he takes off with descriptions of that segment of flying that places readers in his cockpit; he cruises across the night sky with ease, enters storm clouds like a pro and exits them into safety, bringing readers along. Reading Bach is like taking a fearful plane ride, assured of a safe and gentle outcome.
Most of the book traces Bach's Great American Flying Circus, his barnstorming tour in 1966 accomplished in his Detroit-Parks biplane. Despite two significant accidents that summer, close calls in several places and finally wrecking the airplane on Interstate 80 of all places, Bach closes the book with yet more description of the convergence of aviation and good fortune. He claims there are no accidents in the universe. When assistance arrives not once but twice, in places, at times, under circumstances and by the only people who could possibly help, Bach says, "I rest my case."
The book drags only when the narrator gets involved in his own needs, his nutrition, poor cash flow, sleeping arrangements and the de rigeur advertising for paying passengers. In other words, the low points of the book equate to the ground episodes. Once Bach is airborne, the writing soars as well. This is a satisfying addition to the Richard Bach aviation opus, and a welcome title on any aviation reader's shelf.
Byron Edgington, author of The Sky Behind Me: A Memoir of Flying & Life