Remembering Jim Huston, the Naval Flight Officer who filmed the aerial sequences of "The Final Countdown" cult movie


By Dario Leone
Oct 19 2017
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While in the Jolly Rogers, Jim Huston participated in making the movie “The Final Countdown,” filming several scenes with a camera in the back seat of the F-14

Jim Huston, one the F-14 Tomcat Naval Flight Officers (NFOs) from VF-84 Jolly Rogers who participated in making the cult movie “The Final Countdown,” passed away at the age of 62 on Apr. 14, 2016.

Remembering Jim Huston, the Naval Flight Officer who filmed the aerial sequences of "The Final Countdown" cult movie

Jim was born on Oct. 26, 1953 in West Lafayette, Indiana and attended the University of South Carolina on a Navy ROTC scholarship, majoring in history, with a minor in English. As reported by Goodreads Blog, Jim did an exchange cruise on a French Navy destroyer, and also attended the University of Warwick in England to study English Reformation history and English literature. After college he became an NFO and flew F-14 fighter jets with VF-84, the Jolly Rogers, on the USS Nimitz (CVN-68).

While in the Jolly Rogers, he participated in making the movie The Final Countdown, filming several scenes with a camera in the back seat of an F-14. The motion picture featured a unique dogfight which saw two Mitsubishi A6M Zero replicas flying against two F-14 Tomcats. Noteworthy, as explained by the then Jolly Rogers aircrews in the documentary featurette that accompanies ‘The Final Countdown’ DVD, this “dissimilar engagement” was the first time that “the match-up of fighters with totally different speeds, totally different environments and weaponry had ever been done in film.”

VF-84 F-14A Print
This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-14A Tomcat VF-84 Jolly Rogers, AJ200 / 160393 / 1977

Huston than did two Mediterranean cruises and other cruises to the Caribbean and the North Atlantic. He graduated from Topgun before his second cruise. After his tour with VF-84, Huston taught Seapower and Maritime Affairs at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina. He left active duty to attend the University of Virginia School of Law, after which he continued flying in the Navy Reserves, ultimately transferring to Naval Intelligence.

After having retired from Naval Intelligence Reserves, Huston became not only a succesful lawyer but also a New York Times best-selling author, best known for his popular military and legal thrillers.

We think the best way to remember Jim is watching (once again!!) the aerial sequences featured in The Final Countdown.

Thanks Jim, they never get old.

Photo credit: screenshot from video and Kristen Bons via Wikipedia

Artwork courtesy of

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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  1. Felix Nuts Tomcat says:

    Thanks! Loved that movie. I will have the look up his military thrillers.

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