Stephen Coonts' Journal


with 31 comments

Stephen Coonts is the author of 15 New York Times bestsellers, the first of which was the classic flying tale, Flight of the Intruder.

Born in 1946, Stephen Paul Coonts grew up in Buckhannon, West Virginia, a coal-mining town of 6,000 population on the western slope of the Appalachian mountains. He majored in political science at West Virginia University, graduating in 1968 with an A.B. degree. Upon graduation he was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy and began flight training in Pensacola, Florida.

He received his Navy wings in August, 1969. After completion of fleet replacement training in the A-6 Intruder aircraft, Mr. Coonts reported to Attack Squadron 196 at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington. He made two combat cruises aboard USS Enterprise during the final years of the Vietnam War as a member of this squadron. After the war he served as a flight instructor on A-6 aircraft for two years, then did a tour as an assistant catapult and arresting gear officer aboard USS Nimitz. He left active duty in 1977 and moved to Colorado. After short stints as a taxi driver and police officer, he entered the University of Colorado School of Law in the fall of 1977.

Mr. Coonts received his law degree in December, 1979, and moved to West Virginia to practice. He returned to Colorado in 1981 as a staff attorney specializing in oil and gas law for a large independent oil company.

His first novel, Flight of the Intruder, published in September 1986 by the Naval Institute Press, spent 28 weeks on the New York Times bestseller lists in hardcover. A motion picture based on this novel, with the same title, was released nationwide in January 1991.

The success of his first novel allowed Mr. Coonts to devote himself full time to writing; he has been at it ever since. He still enjoys flying and tries to do as much of it as possible.

Mr. Coonts’ books have been widely translated and republished in the British Commonwealth, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Turkey, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Russia, China, Japan, Czechoslovakia, Serbia, Latvia, and Israel.

Mr. Coonts was a trustee of West Virginia Wesleyan College from 1990-1998. He was inducted into the West Virginia University Academy of Distinguished Alumni in 1992. The U.S. Naval Institute honored him with its Author of the Year Award for the year 1986 for his novel, Flight of the Intruder.  Steve resides in Colorado.



Written by stephencoonts

October 7, 2009 at 7:28 pm

31 Responses

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  1. Thank you for your excellent books.

    Just reading though the Fortunes of War and am curious what Clay Lacy did to really piss you off.

    I’ll never forget 1986 when Chuck Yeager was at Mr. Lacys hanger in Van Nuys shooting a Pepsi commercial when he told Joe Casperoff, the owner of the P-51 that he (Mr. Yeagar) was going to take it around the patch once. Joe said F U to Mr. Yeagar and had Mark take the P-51 back to the hanger.

    Craig Lenhart

    December 9, 2009 at 2:44 pm

  2. Just finished reading your books of Flight of the Intruder and The Intruders. I am on the third book of Final Flight. I love your writing. Jack Grafton is such a beliverable hero. Your books make me more respect our men and women in service. Their dedication and sacrifice are the reason that we can live the way we want to live. Thanks.


    January 28, 2010 at 10:40 am

  3. I was totally unaware of Mr. Lacy, a prominent aviation businessman, when I grabbed that name out of thin air for the tale, FORTUNES OF WAR. My apologies to Mr Lacy if I have caused him any grief.


    January 28, 2010 at 7:51 pm

  4. Hi Steve,

    Great thanks firstly for the two Intruder’s books – I’ve read the first (Flight of the Intruder) in the Internet Russian translation kind, then ordered through Amazon your excellent The Intruders. As a former Russian Navy officer I’d like to say that your fears and anxiety about Soviet AAW’s efficiency are completely in vain – am suspect, to the same degree that we were afraid concerning the A-6Es’ antiship capabilities. No matter, all is in the past…
    Steve, could you be so kind to remember what kind of feelings did you have while fly A-6 from the carriers – that you are combat ready Naval Offcer being temporary in the air or that you are the air-minded flier being temporary in Naval uniform?


    February 16, 2010 at 6:35 pm

  5. “…Mr. Coonts reported to Attack Squadron 196 at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington.”

    I was also stationed at Whidbey in 1969 attached to VAH-10 flying A-3 Skywarriors. Small world. Could have seen each other many times. That’s why I just love “Flight of the Intruder”. One of the best (if not THE best) attack aircraft ever built.

    A-3 Man

    February 23, 2010 at 5:42 am

  6. Love all of your books. I have read about 10 so far. The Deep Black series are my favorites. Thank you so much. I never thought I would get so hooked on an author since I finished reading John Grisham but you have replaced him as my number 1. Thanks again Mr. Coonts.


    March 1, 2010 at 7:59 pm

  7. I enjoy and have enjoyed all of your books. I am now reading some for the second time. I really like Tommy.
    Wm. E. Fickert

    Wm. E. Fickert

    March 2, 2010 at 3:52 pm

  8. Hello, Steve…Dave Rhode, Bob Wittenberg and I are hoping to get together sometime this year before we actually get old. I sure do enjoy your writing, Steve. You have done a lot of good things, Steve, and I want you to know, you’ll always put a smile on my face because of the amazing times we all had in VA 196. Did you know Dave and I actually punched the tables to make certain we had enough air density at Fallon to get that A6 off the runway…had to go early in the morning before it got too hot to rotate. You proved you were one helluva pilot when you put that A6 down right on the centerline, Steve! Always your friend, Jay Sandlin…

    J.J. Sandlin

    March 7, 2010 at 12:54 am

  9. Sir,
    Greatly enjoyed Flight of the Intruder when I read it many years ago. Just finished The Disciple and thoroughly enjoyed that one, too. Keep up the good work! Visited your website and the Dear Creek Farms vids on rifles and arrowheads; what a trip you life has been!…..

    John Hensley Sr

    March 21, 2010 at 6:14 pm

  10. Hi Steve,
    I enjoyed flt of the intruder as my little brother flew A6s off the Ranger with VF 145 “Swordsmen” I proceeded him to vietnam as a Army helicopter gunship pilot. We were ahead when I left. I flew aerobatics for 25 years in Pitts S1-S2A S2B and finished up with Extra 300. I have been flying Huskys since. I have a 1996 A1 and a 2002 A1B. I am now in the process of buying a used Stemme S10VT to keep away from medical grounding.I just read your article in the March 2002 AOPA magazine and wondered if you were ever able to buy a Stemme. I’ll be picking it up in Arizona 5 June then flying up to my home in Seattle along with an instructor Glider Bob from Colorado. If your going to be in town LasVegas I’ll give you a call when we come by if your in the phone book. I also enjoy shooting and collecting guns. Stay healthy and safe.

    Alan Ellison

    March 21, 2010 at 7:43 pm

  11. Love your first three books on Jack Grafton Series. Not so with book Hong Kong. Those Chinese revolutionaries in this book are terrorists in my eyes. I sincerely hope that China will truly embrace democracy one day with peaceful approach, not with violent revolutions.


    April 6, 2010 at 9:28 am

    • China is getting more and more capitalistic, they will end up being our friends in the end, itll just take time and understanding on both sides


      April 15, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    • Just afer reading Wages of Sin…. I’m a huge fan Can’t wait to read the rest of your books. All the characters were wonderful! Tommy Carmelli is better than James Bond! Well done!


      December 13, 2010 at 10:30 am

  12. Hi Mr Coonts,

    I read your first book,Flight of the Intruder, not long after it was published and thought it was a good read. Then, for some unknown reason, I failed to pick up another of your books until just last week.
    I was lucky enough to buy a second hand copy of Fortunes of War in a local charity bookshop, what a great read.
    Luckily there is now the ‘Internet’ and I will be absolutely, positively seeking out more of your books in some catch up kind of way.
    Thank you for the writing and more strength to your writing elbow.

    Best regards,

    Iain Bannigan.


    July 12, 2010 at 5:00 am

  13. I recently moved to the San Diego area and while unpacking I found an old evaluation of mine signed by Lt Coonts. I was an AME2 in VA-128 at the time and fortunately you recommended me for re-enlistment. I went on to spend over 26 years in the Navy and retired as a Master Chief…

    Thanks for the recommendation, I couldn’t have done it without you.


    September 1, 2010 at 12:44 pm

  14. I have enjoyed every one of your books that I’ve picked up. My father is a retired USAF Fighter/Bomber pilot and was not very good at relaying what it felt like to fly those jets, so hearing your excellent recollections clued me into why my Dad must have loved his craft. I work for the US Navy fixing ships and will never fly (bad depth perception) but your books have given me an appreciation for what our work does for the serving men and women in the service in the way of protection. Your stories also give me additional motivation to assure we do our best for those putting their lives on the line to allow me to sit a quietly read your books in my nice house free from danger and attack. Please keep your stories coming as they are great source of entertainment for me and many others that I know.

    Michael Aman

    October 10, 2010 at 7:12 pm

  15. Mr. Coonts:
    Thanks for taking the time to write Flight of Intruder and The Intruders, I absolutely love these books. These books are not only great novels but they serve in many ways as a way for future generations to understand war and service from your first hand experiences that come through in page after page. I began reading the first four of your books during my deployment to Iraq in 2005. I saw Flight of the Intruder back when I was a kid but I never got around to reading the book until I was an adult. I happened to find both Flight and The Intruders at the FOB library, I started reading and I couldn’t put them down. I had my wife send me Final Flight and Flight of the Minotaur; I read them almost as fast as I read the first two. Flight is leaps and bounds better than the movie and now that I am on my second deployment, I am reading it again. As a child, I always wanted to be a pilot but my vision kept me restricted to the ground so I entered the Army and I find myself deployed again to Iraq. The characters and their internal and external struggles I can easy relate to; your characters remind me of my friends and those that I serve with. I wish you and your family all the best and congratulations on your newest book. P.S. Please make the next book about Grafton’s time as a LCDR and a squadron CO…he made the decision to stay in, where does it take him before he becomes a CAG?


    November 9, 2010 at 1:13 pm

  16. Steve,

    Just read Deep Black, Arctic Gold. Enjoyed it! Starting on Deep Black, Conspiracy now. I’m a fly boy also, Civil Air Patrol, Black Sheep squadron, Denver, Colorado.


    Greg Duggan

    December 6, 2010 at 8:12 pm

  17. Stephen…Just finished “Disciple”. Great stuff. Your other books, which I have also read, allowed me to get my grandaughter. eleven years old, her first flying lesson. Talk about a grin you couldn’t wipe off! Thanks again and will be looking forward to the next book.
    Tom Owens

    Thomas Owens

    December 28, 2010 at 10:33 am

  18. Happy New Year and thanks for The Disciple. I just finished it and am grateful for my ability to forget what I read a long time ago–so just like my periodic rereading of Patrick O’Brian’s whole Aubrey-Maturin series, I’m now going back reread the earlier Tommy Carmellini stories. Jake and Callie have been terrific, iconic characters and, as I told when I got to meet you briefly once in Colorado, Thank you for being a leader in the genre.


    December 31, 2010 at 6:32 am

  19. Steve,
    I’ve read the Grafton series thru Hong Kong and I play the charactors from the movie in my mind as I read…. I enjoy each one…. Just finished a Deep Black book and could not put it down! Am going to start thru that series soon. I will be in Los Vegas in July with Walgreens… hope to have another one down by then… thank you for taking me away from reality for just a little while!

    Bob Roney

    March 5, 2011 at 7:29 pm

  20. Your Intruder books are educational and fascinating although I wish I had waited to read Final Flight until I had read all your Jake Grafton novels. I’m a writer myself and am always looking for good fiction. I was out of town and picked up Hong Kong to pass the time and couldn’t put it down. Wow – non-stop action and a fantastic story. I couldn’t find where it was made into a movie – what a missed opportunity – it would make a brilliant one.

    Your fan, Mary

    Mary Dobyns

    March 8, 2011 at 2:47 am

  21. Hi Steve, Great books, very believable characters and situations in all I have read so far, (seven). Trying to keep them in proper order, pretty hard to do as new titles appear.
    I appreciate a good read, your material is so appropriate to past and current events.
    Many Thanks for the intrigue
    Bevan “Koz”.

    Bevan Kosonen

    April 1, 2011 at 8:19 am

  22. Thanks for all the great books that you have written. I served on the USS Lexington from 1968 to 1972. I’ll bet that you did all your carrier training on the Lexington in the Gulf of Mexico when you were getting your wings. I was surprised when I checked your website out to find out you were an A6 Driver which made your Flight of the Intruder so real. Keep up the good work.

    John Driskill

    April 12, 2011 at 11:49 am

  23. Enjoying another one of your books,”Saucer”,…Marc the Grounded Pilot.
    Morro Bay, CA.. Only six driving hours from my favorite town: Las Vegas…

    Marc Goodman

    May 2, 2011 at 1:54 pm

  24. enjoying your quite gripping stories. Was also hoping you still live in Maryland (per some of your book jackets but not mentioned in your bio above) as I like to donate autographed books to charity auctions… if you ever drop back into the Free State, and would tolerate the intrusion, please email me where to rendezvous (If you’re crashing at Tom Clancy’s pad, I have a few of his I’d love to get signed, too!). Thanks, & keep doing your thing… Write On!


    May 21, 2011 at 3:22 pm

  25. I am a big fan. I have read all the Jake Grafton and Tommy Carmilini novels and I hope for more novels of both of them in the future. Thank you for the great reading.


    June 8, 2011 at 12:09 am

  26. I am on page # 305 of “Stephen Coonts” : ( the Cannibal Queen ) ,
    Never have I laughed so much in my life !.
    Thank You , Mr. Coonts !……… :O )
    by the way , Mr. Coonts I am a 68 year old Functioning ILLiterate
    That doesn’t know how to spell: Coronel ?.

    Dirtdobber Davis

    July 22, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    • Thank You , for: the Books , Sir !.

      Dirtdobber Davis

      December 28, 2011 at 8:51 pm

  27. Just wanted to tell you i loved the saucers collection one of my favorite books of all time the description you gave the saucers was amazing


    August 5, 2011 at 9:52 am

  28. Mr Coonts
    First of all I have to complements your writing style. I have read only two of your books but I am going to read all of them. I have the feeling that Jake Grafton is like you…
    A very big salute from Europe.

    max hof

    November 26, 2011 at 3:07 pm

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