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Author, aviator Richard Bach injured in plane crash

CAMANO ISLAND, Washington -- Richard Bach, a pilot and author of the 1970s best-selling book “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” was seriously injured when he flipped his small aircraft on landing at an island in northwestern Washington state, authorities said on Saturday.

Bach, 76, clipped power lines with the landing gear of his 2008 Easton Gilbert Searey as he tried to land on a grass airstrip on San Juan Island, said Michael McElrath, the dispatcher for the San Juan County Sheriff's Office.

The crash left Bach suspended upside down and strapped to his harness in the single-engine plane, McElrath said.

A group of tourists found Bach and cut him loose from the wreckage. He was bleeding and had a “dent” in his head, Lucy Williams, one of the tourists, told the San Juan Islander, a local publication.

Bach was transported by helicopter to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. A nursing supervisor said on Saturday that he was listed in serious condition.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board were on San Juan Island on Saturday to probe the cause of the crash, McElrath said, adding that Bach lived on nearby Orcas Island though it was unclear where he had taken off from.

The plane was “heavily damaged” in the crash, McElrath said.

Posts on Bach's official website indicated that he called his plane “Puff.”

Bach's novella “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” which was published in 1970 and topped the New York Times Best Sellers list two years later, tells the story of a daring seagull who pushes himself to become a phenomenal flyer and is expelled from his seagull clan. It was made into a movie in 1973.

The author's other books include “Illusions” and “One.”

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