Flight of the Intruder by Stephen Coonts
Overall, I would say that Flight of the Intruder is a very well crafted novel, especially for the writer's first piece of published fiction. The book centers on veteran U.S. Navy pilot 1st. Lt. Jake "Cool Hand Grafton" and later on, his BN (bombardier/navigator) Lt. Comdr. Virgil "Tiger" Cole. Coonts, having flown A-6A Intruder bombers in the Vietnam War himself, is thus qualified to tell this sort of story, and intimately knows all of the sensations, dangers, and technical details involved with piloting these bombers. This book offers many profound insights into the lives of naval carrier pilots during the Vietnam era and the dangers they faced, such as small arms fire at low altitudes, SAMs up high in the air, explosive concussions from their own bombs, attempting to refuel during flight, and taking off and landing in the pitch black of night from a relatively small carrier deck.
One of the few shortcomings of this book is that sometimes Coonts includes too many technical details, and I get bored, or I can't remember what the abbreviations mean. (e.g. TACAN, LSO, VDI, STARM, BARCAP, etc) However, the detail in this book is very vivid, as if I was personally strapped down into the pilot's seat and hurtled at over 500 mph through enemy fire. Throughout the book, Coonts masterfully makes the action, emotion, and suspense rise and fall, so that I did not want to put it down.
The storyline of this book is very captivating. After experiencing many years of the war, Lt. Grafton has grown to become disillusioned and almost become jaded of flying, even though the exhilaration from flying was what he once lived on. After seeing many brave flyers die pointlessly during attacks on meaningless targets, including his best...