The Star Wars galaxy is known for its colorful collection of characters, each equipped with their own special set of skills to aid in the seemingly never-ending battle between good and evil, the Jedi and the Sith, the Republic and the Separatists, the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire, the Resistance and the First Order.
Semantics aside, there are some standouts boasting some serious skill when it comes to flying, dogfighting, and piloting vessels of all kinds.
With so many greats to speak of, who deserves the distinction and title of “best pilot”?
There are many criteria to weigh up in the mostly subjective debate. Who is the most skilled pilot? Is skill determined by the pilot’s handling of their vessel, affinity with all vessels, overall combat skills, or natural instincts and intuition?
We’ve considered the best pilots from all sides– the rebels, the Empire, and everything in between– and compiled a list of the best there ever were. Here are our top picks for the best pilots in the Star Wars galaxy.
10. Din Djarin
The Mandalorian introduces the taciturn Din Djarin who, beyond his iconic Mandalorian armor, beskar helmet, and IB-94 blaster pistol, shows considerable flying ability. Over the course of his journey to bring Grogu to the Jedi, Djarin showcases a number of skills that indicate superior flying ability.
Let’s start with his vessel– the ST-70 Razor Crest M-111 Assault Ship that once was used as a military vessel until falling into the resourceful hands of Mando himself. The vessel could be piloted by one, and that’s exactly how Djarin does it, but contains two chairs for co-pilots and an astromech droid socket.
Basically, that means the ship should function most optimally with three pilots and a droid at the helm, but Djarin does the job of four all by his lonesome. A lesser pilot would not be able to pull this off.
The task is made more impressive by the state of disrepair the Razor Crest appears to be in. A once proud military vessel, the Razor Crest is no more than a glorified dropship held together with hope and the galactic equivalent of duct tape. Nonetheless, Djarin constantly outmanoeuvres his adversaries, including two top-of-the-line X-Wing patrol units, and keeps the upper hand no matter how tough the going gets.
Beyond his adroit piloting of a hunk-of-junk ship, Djarin shows affinity to numerous vessels. During a Nite Owl raid on an Imperial cruiser, Djarin becomes tasked with keeping the ship from crash landing and obliterating everyone on board.
Of course, he has no prior training with an Imperial ship, let alone a massive cruiser, but his instincts are sharper than Sarlacc teeth and he pulls out of the sticky situation unscathed.
His top-notch skills and proven track record earn him a place on our list as one of the best pilots in the galaxy.
9. Iden Versio
The Commander of the infamous Inferno Squad, Iden Versio was introduced in a novel that tied into but preceded the video game Star Wars Battlefront II.
What makes Versio so intriguing is her impressive track record despite the inherent fragility of TIE fighters. To be fair, she’s not piloting just any old TIE fighter, but a TIE/In space superiority starfighter with trademark crimson Inferno Squad markings and an upgraded payload.
While piloting this specialty craft, she has survived a number of skirmishes against the Rebel Alliance and boasted an impressively high kill count to boot, making her an absolute force to be reckoned with.
Beyond her implied track record that preceded her achieving the rank of Commander, we see Versio’s skills firsthand in the Battle of Jakku, as she disposes of numerous enemy fighters, and the Battle of Theed, during which she essentially saves a planet from destruction through expert maneuvering and eliminating crucial satellites at key moments.
Her precision, skill, and status as Inferno Squad Commander make her a strong candidate for one of the greatest pilots in the galaxy.
8. Han Solo
Never tell this man the odds, or his relatively low ranking on this list. Fans of the original trilogy may scoff at suggesting the scruffy-looking nerf herder is not the best of the best, but there are reasons to suggest why.
Let’s start on a positive note and talk about the reasons why Han is one of the best.
For starters, Han Solo is never shy to tell anyone and everyone within an earshot about making the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. This is significant because, as revealed by Lando, the popular smuggler’s route was known to take a minimum of 20 parsecs.
Han Solo pushed the Falcon to its absolute limits, causing 87,500 Imperial credits worth of damage including dents, dings, scratches, scorches, destroyed computer systems, and the complete loss of a gun, landing gear, and an escape pod.
He shaved 8 parsecs off of the record time, but the ship was far from unscathed.
This leads us to our next point– the Millennium Falcon. It was pristine prior to the Kessel run record setting, but it suffered extensive damage and was introduced in A New Hope as a hunk-of-junk that even precocious and inexperienced Luke Skywalker pokes fun at.
Despite the comparatively poor condition we find the Falcon in at the start of Episode IV, it doesn’t stop Solo from constantly evading Imperial authority and surviving battle after battle relatively intact.
In the battle to destroy the first Death Star, it’s his stealth and skill that surprises Darth Vader, one of the most accomplished pilots the galaxy has ever known who is both equipped with top-of-the-line technology and the Force as well, yet unassuming Han Solo sneaks up and blasts Vader to save Luke’s skin and give him the opening for the legendary “game-winning goal” if you will.
Let’s not forget he swerved through an asteroid field using that same less than pristine craft, a feat that C-3PO informs us has 3,720:1 odds stacked against the skilled smuggler. If that’s not impressive enough, he then hid inside the mouth of an Exogorth to evade the Imperial pursuit, only to peel out once more in the nick of time to avoid becoming the Exogorth’s next meal.
Solo is an undeniably tight-skilled flyboy. There’s no doubt about it. So how is he so inferior to other pilots on the list?
For one, his combat skills are light. As a smuggler and a rogue, it’s Solo’s main concern to look out for numero uno, which often means cutting and running at the first sign of danger. When his operation is compromised, he’s known to drop smuggled goods and split. Beyond one or two actual battles Solo participates in, his skills mostly revolve around escaping.
In addition, he’s backed by another capable pilot, Chewbacca. The impressive feats he pulls off, while very, very impressive, are made possible through Chewie’s similar flying prowess and co-piloting support. Without Chewie, it’s debatable if Solo would still pull it all off.
Finally, Solo is a force to be reckoned with but does not have the Force. It’s true that he is more attuned to the Force than, say, a nameless Stormtrooper, but he is a firm nonbeliever of the “hokey religion.”
For these reasons, Han Solo is a more than capable and accomplished pilot, but not among the best the galaxy has ever seen.
7. Antoc Merrick
According to fellow flyboy Poe Dameron, Antoc Merrick could “outfly most pilots who’ve ever lived.” Rogue One gave us our chance to see Merrick in action during the imperative Battle of Scarif, where he served as a Rebel Alliance General and Blue Leader.
It was his superior flying skills and tactical cunning that guaranteed the Rebels would acquire the Death Star plans and send them in a droid to the retired Obi Wan Kenobi on Tatooine, but he was unfortunately gunned down by a TIE Striker in that very battle.
Much of what we know about Merrick’s career achievements happened offscreen before the events of Rogue One. We know that he was talented enough to act as flight leader of his home planet’s defense force, the Virujansi Rarified Air Cavalry, but the organization dissolved after the Empire assumed possession of the planet. Merrick and Co were offered invitations to serve as part of the Imperial navy, but Merrick declined and took his talents to the Rebel Alliance instead.
With the Alliance, he rose in the ranks rapidly, achieving the status of General and Blue Leader in near record time. He illustrated his skill both as a capable starfighter and brilliant military strategist operating out of Dantooine and subsequently Yavin 4.
Perhaps his biggest influence on the face of the Rebel Alliance starfleet as we know it is their traditional use of X-Wing fighters. Prior to Merrick’s involvement, the Rebels were more apt to fly U-Wings until Merrick personally campaigned to have X-Wing fighters used in their place, preferring their handling and comparing it to his native Virujansi bush hopper crafts.
Merrick’s technical knowledge and hundreds of hours operating the ships convinced Mon Mothma to begin utilizing T-65B X-Wing starfighters in a much bigger way, essentially shaping the composition of the Rebel Alliance starfleet as we know it.
Most importantly, however, was his heart. When Merrick spoke to his squadron, it was never cold, never calculated, never written or rehearsed to manipulate his subordinates into action. Rather, it was straight from his heart, and he personally identified with and believed in each and every pilot that joined him in battle.
Merrick was a military mastermind, but his true talents were his superior piloting abilities and his unwavering, unrelenting dedication for his team.
6. Hera Syndulla
Hera Syndulla is the embodiment of everything that makes for a good pilot and good leader, all rolled up in one tight Twi’lek package. She is an accomplished pilot, celebrated figure in the Rebel Alliance and New Republic, and has unparalleled knowledge of spacecraft and their operation.
In her earlier years, Syndulla created a schism between her and her father, General Cham Syndulla, when she chose to assist the Rebel Alliance instead of the revolutionaries of her home world, Ryloth. Regardless, she still provided them aid and led a relief mission to Ryloth.
Syndulla piloted a YT-209 Freighter “Eclipse” but was intercepted by Imperial fighters. Despite being outclassed by superior weaponry and maneuverability, Syndulla showcased some undeniable skill and took out numerous adversaries before completing the mission and safely escaping into hyperspace.
Syndulla went on to participate in and survive nearly every significant military event against the Empire and subsequently the First Order, including the Battles of Scarif, Mako-Ta, Hoth, Endor, and Jakku. Although she most often piloted starship and home base “The Ghost”, as well as smaller starfighter “Phantom”, Syndulla showed proficiency in piloting numerous vessels including freighters, a prototype B-Wing, and a T-65B X-Wing.
Her proven proficiency and impressively extensive technical knowledge makes Hera Syndulla one of the best and one of the most underrated pilots in the Star Wars galaxy.
5. Plo Koon
Casual fans might balk at the mention of Plo Koon as one of the greatest, but the mere fact that Koon’s contemporaries often compared his flying skills as on par with Anakin Skywalker is all the evidence needed to show that this Kel Dor Jedi is one of the best there’s ever been.
Koon’s track record speaks volumes. He was right alongside Anakin during the mission to intercept the Separatist warship “Malevolence” despite the exceedingly challenging route through Balmorra Run.
Koon personally led a rescue mission to Lola Sayu as well to recover stranded rebel forces, including Anakin and Obi Wan, and escape despite encountering a substantial enemy presence.
Plo Koon is swift at the helm, exhibiting expert maneuverability, but his quick reflexes and incredible Force abilities also make him a precise gunner. Despite his renown and demonstrated abilities, he was unable to predict the execution of Order 66 and, like so many of his peers, was destroyed before he could react.
Plo Koon was not just a powerful Jedi, put an accomplished pilot too.
4) Poe Dameron
Just like Han Solo before him, Poe Dameron got his start as a smuggler and was one of the most notorious spice runners before rallying with the New Republic and becoming a General of the Resistance. Under the callsign of Black Leader, Dameron piloted a custom T-70 X-Wing mostly and participated in or led battles including D’Qar, Takodana, Crait, Grail City, and the final battle at Exegol.
Although we’re told of an impressive track record that preceded his on-screen appearance, our first real evidence that Poe is a top-notch starfighter comes during the Battle of Takodana, during which he aided Finn, Rey, Han, and Chewie in damaging the Starkiller base and, in Luke Skywalker fashion, fired the shots that would result in the base’s destruction.
Sure, there were many a rebel pilot present during this battle, but Dameron walks away with the W and gets the credit for destroying what was essentially the next Death Star type weapon.
Dameron showed a trademark boldness, sometimes directly disobeying orders to follow his intuition. At the Battle of D’Qar, he employed his style of shoot first, ask questions later and disobeyed Leia’s orders to disengage from the enemy.
His boldness paid off since it led to the destruction of the Mandator IV-class Siege Dreadnought “Fulminatrix”, which debatably would have destroyed the Raddus and essentially wiped out the Resistance if Poe had not taken the initiative.
Unfortunately, his boldness came with a high price tag, as it cost the lives of all the bombers that destroyed the Fulminatrix, several escort fighters, and Dameron’s rank as he was demoted for disobeying his commanding officer.
He redeemed himself following a significant setback before the Battle of Exegol, wherein the Sith Eternal had successfully extricated a number of essential fighters in the Resistance and Poe felt personally responsible for the losses.
When his hopes were at their lowest, Lando Calrissian arrived with a prodigious Citizen’s Fleet and led to Dameron delivering a heartfelt monologue reminiscent of his personal hero, Antoc Merrick.
With a spark kindled in each fighter thanks to Dameron’s words and strong leadership, they took to the skies and, led by Black Leader, systematically destroyed the Xyston-class Star Destroyers. Dameron himself was largely responsible for this decisive victory over the biggest adversary the universe had known to that point.
Beyond his vast military achievements, expert handling, and gung-ho spirit, Dameron is known for his pinpoint precision, destroying 10 enemy vessels on-screen without missing a single shot!
3. Wedge Antilles
Wedge Antilles was such a talented starfighter that even the golden boy himself Luke Skywalker acknowledged and respected his sheer skill and poise in the face of the most perilous situations. From our introduction to Wedge in Episode IV, we already get that he’s done quite well for himself since joining the Rebel Alliance and flying on the elite Red Squadron under the callsign Red Two.
At the end of the film, we see Wedge joining Luke and the other Red Squadron pilots mount an offensive during the Battle of Yavin in an effort to destroy the first Death Star. Despite numerous losses during the fracas, Wedge makes it through unscathed and goes on to form Rogue Squadron with Skywalker, building into one of the most prestigious groups of pilots the galaxy had ever seen.
During the siege on Echo Base, Wedge mounted the counterattack on the impending AT-AT Walkers from a snowspeeder and earned the distinction of the first to down a Walker using the tow cable tripping method. After Hoth, Antilles assumed the role of Commander, taking the full responsibility of managing Rogue Squadron while Luke took a step away from the cockpit to focus on mastering the Jedi Arts instead.
Antilles’ already impressive resume was bolstered further by his participation in the Battle of Endor against the Empire’s most impressive fleet yet and the seemingly incomplete but fully operational second Death Star above the forest moon. Wedge acted as Red Leader, taking charge outside the Death Star and giving Lando and Nien Nunb their opening to get inside the Death Star and deliver the final shots.
When all was said and done and the Empire was (presumably) defeated, Antilles reluctantly left the cockpit and accepted a position as a General, lending his expertise in training the new generation of pilots that would go on to become the best and brightest of the New Republic and the Resistance.
What makes Wedge one of the most impressive of all pilots is that he accomplished all this without any assistance from the Force. Wedge is certified, bona fide non-Force sensitive, giving us a new hope that even regular folks can excel in piloting.
He also holds the distinction as the only pilot that participated in both Death Star battles and lived to tell the tale.
2. Luke Skywalker
Didn’t you hear that he used to bullseye womp rats in his T-16 back home? They’re not much bigger than two meters!
It’s true, Luke came off a tad immature before he left his home on Tatooine and embarked on the adventure of a lifetime, but somewhere over the course of his journey he graduated from a hopeful almost desperate do-gooder into one of the greatest Jedi Knights and X-Wing pilots the galaxy had ever seen.
His name held such weight after the events of Return of the Jedi that Snoke and subordinate Kylo Ren would stop at nothing to keep the Resistance from finding and recruiting the Last Jedi himself.
It all started when he flew as part of Red Squadron in the Battle of Yavin. Luke had never formally trained with this vessel, his only piloting experience to speak of being reserved to that very same T-16 landspeeder on Tatooine, but he was still able to make a significant impact during the battle and almost outmaneuver his father in the trenches of the Death Star.
After a quick assist by Han Solo, Luke puzzles his compatriots by turning off his targeting computer and turning inward to harness his latent Force abilities. With only his Force premonition and the aforementioned ever-important wombat blasting abilities, he nails what most considered an impossible shot, winning the Battle of Yavin and destroying the first Death Star.
Luke would go on to fly in the Battle of Hoth and downed an AT-AT Walker before retreating and jetting to the Dagobah system. At this juncture, Luke relinquished his role in the famed Rogue Squadron and left it in the capable hands of now Commander Wedge Antilles.
Although his on-screen track record was brief, his peers and successors spoke volumes of his impressive flying skill and abilities, earning him one of the highest spots on our list.
1. Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader
Naturally, Anakin Skywalker clinches the top spot on our list because he essentially exhibited proficiency and superiority as an ace from the cradle to the grave.
We first get our glimpse of young Ani on Tatooine at the age of 9, dreaming of winning the Boonta Eve Classic Podracing Tournament so he could earn the money to buy his and his mother’s freedom from Watto.
He would win that tournament, becoming the first human to do so and all while managing a busted engine thanks to Sebulba’s dirty tricks. This alone indicated Anakin was destined for greatness, but he’d further drive the point home by crawling into a Naboo N-1 Starfighter and destroying a Lucrehulk-class Droid Control Ship, effectively securing the win for Naboo when all hope seemed lost.
Again, he accomplished all this at the age of 9 before he even became a Jedi Padawan.
From there, Anakin stacked accolades on accolades, making quick work of Separatist ships and becoming one of the most proficient pilots during the Clone Wars. During the Battle of Christophsis, Anakin outsmarted the crew of a Providence-class Dreadnought “Invincible” using a cloaking feature on his vessel. Once Anakin was hidden, the Invincible crew wrongfully believed they had the upper hand and fired tracking torpedoes that would lock on to Anakin’s magnetic signature. In response, Anakin launched himself directly at the Invincible, causing the ship’s own torpedoes to strike the bridge and destroy it.
It was brilliant tactical moves supplemented by superior flying skill that assured Anakin rapidly rose to the rank of Jedi General and became regarded as the best pilot of all time.
From pursuing an assassin through the skies of Coruscant to crash-landing General Grievous’ heavily-damaged flagship to engaging and eliminating countless rebels while piloting Vader’s signature TIE Advanced x1 Starfighter, Anakin’s resume provides endless evidence that he is the chosen one.
Without a doubt, Anakin Skywalker is the best pilot in the Star Wars galaxy.