Stephen Coonts' first novel, FLIGHT OF THE INTRUDER, told the story of Jake "Cool Hand" Grafton and his fellow A-6 Intruder pilots flying bombing missions over Vietnam from the deck of the carrier USS Shiloh. In FINAL FLIGHT Jake Grafton returns, this time as commander of an air wing on the super carrier USS United States, on patrol in the tension-ridden Mediterranean.
After a particularly long cruise, the USS United States is in port in Naples and her crew is enjoying its first liberty in months. But something's not right. Several crew members have not reported back from their leave and a beautiful American reporter who boarded the United States in Tangiers may not be a reporter, or even an American. When one of Jake's men, in a hotel in Naples, witnesses an assassination attempt led by this woman, Grafton realizes the situation is much more serious than he suspected. What he doesn't know is that Colonel Qazi, an international terrorist, plans to board the United States and steal six nuclear weapons from her heavily guarded arsenal. Nor does he know that the plot is being financed by El Hakim, the power-hungry leader of an oil-rich Arab state. And most important, he doesn't know he, Jake, past forty and recently grounded by night blindness, is the only one who can stop Qazi, in one man-to-man aerial dogfight, one "final flight."
Fast-paced, action-packed, and filled with authentic technical details of modern aerial and nautical warfare, FINAL FLIGHT is at once a gripping, all too plausible thriller and a powerful, moving portrait of life on a super carrier in our ostensibly peacetime Navy.
FINAL FLIGHT was Coonts' second published novel, and the 12th biggest bestseller of 1988. In paperback it achieved a #1 bestseller ranking by Published Weekly. If you wish to read the Jake Grafton series in order, THE INTRUDERS is the direct sequel to FLIGHT OF THE INTRUDER and should be read before FINAL FLIGHT.