The novel ends with a suicide pilot crashing a commercial jet into the Capitol, killing most of Congress and the President.
Clancy later describes to the BBC how he’d gone about writing this book: “I didn’t write Debt of Honor without first discussing it with an Air Force officer. And so I ran this idea past him and all of a sudden this guy’s eyeballing me rather closely and I said come on general, I know you must have looked at this before, you’ve got to have a plan for it. And the guy goes, ‘Mr. Clancy, to the best of my knowledge, if we had a plan to deal with this, it would be secret, I wouldn’t be able to talk to you about it, but to the best of my knowledge we’ve never looked at this possibility before.’”In fairness to Clancy, he was not the first to envision something like this. In fact, Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman, did something similar in his 1982 novella, The Running Man. In it, the story ends with the hero stealing a plane and flying it into a skyscraper.