Stephen P. Coonts (‘68 AB)
Stephen P. Coonts, born in Buckhannon, W.Va., graduated from West Virginia University in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. While at WVU, he enrolled in the Navy Flight Training Program. Upon graduation, he was commissioned in the U.S. Navy in time to fly fighter jet bombing missions over Vietnam and Laos.
Coonts served aboard the USS Enterprise and the USS Nimitz accumulating 1600 flight hours and logging 305 arrested carrier landings, over 100 of them at night. After the war, he served as flight instructor on A-6 aircrafts for two years, then as assistant catapult-arresting gear officer aboard the USS Nimitz. His many commendations include the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Upon being discharged from active duty in 1977, he entered law school at the University of Colorado where he graduated in 1979.
After practicing as a law associate for Hymes & Coonts Attorneys, in Buckhannon and as in-house counsel for Petro-Lewis Corporation, a major independent oil company in Denver, Colo., Coonts began his writing career in the early 1980s.
His first novel, Flight of the Intruder, landed on the New York Times best seller list in 1985. It is an upbeat book about pilots flying under duress based upon his experiences flying the A-6 Intruder fighter jet.
Flight of the Intruder spent 28 weeks in hardcover on the best seller list and has been published in 14 nations around the world. A motion picture based on the novel, with the same title, was released nationwide in 1991.
Final Flight, Coonts’ second novel, was a continuation of the story he began in Flight of the Intruder. According to Publisher’s Weekly, the book ranked #12 on the annual 1988 U.S. best seller list after being published in 1988.
His third novel, The Minotaur, appeared in 1989 and immediately went on the best seller list as did Under Siege, which was rated by the New York Times as one of the most notable books in 1990.
Coonts, who has published 14 books, was presented with the U.S. Naval Institute Author of the Year Award in 1986. He also serves on the board of trustees at West Virginia Wesleyan College.
Residing in Boulder, Coonts writes full-time and pursues his interests in aviation, motorcycles and literature.