This week I read Flight of the Intruder by Stephen Coonts. I read from page 1 to page 437 for a total of 437 pages.
The book is about an A-6A Intruder (a naval bomber) pilot named Jake Grafton. In the first few pages Jake’s best friend and B/N (Bombardier/Navigator) is killed by a Vietnamese soldier’s rifle. In this mission their target was a "suspected truck park." Jake goes into despondency (depression, despair) for a days and tries to convince his squadron leader that the targets are worthless, that thousand of Americans have died en route and returning from these. The leader replies that he is not in control of the targets, the Pentagon and Air Force is. Jake gathers information from maps and a friend in the navigation department to learn about a target he wants to go after: The Vietnam Communist Party Headquarters. The three figure that if they succeed, they’ll have a good chance of hitting the leader of the party. Grafton and his bombardier, Virgil Cole miss the building completely and just hit a few bystanders and blow craters in the sidewalk. Just when the two are about to be court-martialed, President Nixon gives the orders of unauthorized bombings anywhere in North and South Vietnam. Grafton and Cole fly their next mission with a EA-6B for SAM (surface-to-air missiles) suppression. This plane only carried antiradiation missiles to destroy the SAMs and their radar. But, as they were approximating (approaching, advancing on) the first SAM surface gun destroyed most of the plane. The crew ejected within the midst of the night; Grafton landing safely, but Cole’s back broke. Eventually, they were rescued by a helicopter, but an A-1 Skyraider pilot who was killing off the Vietnamese that were trying to shoot the crew.
The setting of the book was in the Vietnam Era, most likely in the early years. There were various settings like the aircraft carrier, Cubi Point Naval Air Station in the Philippines, Hong Kong, and inside the planes. The most important setting was the cockpit of the Intruder.
This story was very, very realistic. It really could have happened. One reason is because the novel took place in a real place and time: the Vietnam War. Everything about it exists. The only possible unrealistic thing is that the likelihood of the President’s order coming at the same time of Grafton’s raid is truly slim.
The details and description in the novel are perfect. When the author talks about the various things and airplane is equipped with he doesn’t list them; he talks about their use and properties. The author also doesn’t drone on with elaborate descriptions either. Stephen Coonts has found a perfect mix of the two.
This story was also action packed. It had last second decisions, bombs dropping, missiles firing, pilots barely ejecting, shootouts, and airplane chases. (A Russian MiG fighter chased Jake for a while). But, unfortunately, it had people dying and being killed.
After reading this book I saw the movie Flight of the Intruder. Both had the same plot, except in the movie Jack bombed a large area filled to the brim with SAMs called SAM City, not Party Headquarters. Also, in the movie Cole killed himself when his back broke, and the A-1 pilot didn’t get shot down. The last run Jack made in the movie was in daylight and his commander’s plane was shot down then his. In the book the commander never stepped in a plane.