Sure, Star Wars fans might dream of igniting a lightsaber and calling on the force like a Jedi. But honestly, if we were in a galaxy far far away, we’d want to lock our S-Foils in attack position like the dashing X-Wing pilots of the Alliance and Republic. But who’s the best of them all? We ranked them to find out.
Warning: There are some incredibly mild spoilers for The Force Awakens below. View at your own discretion!
Sure, in the movies, at first Wedge might have been seen as an almost-sidekick to Luke’s superior piloting talent—but while Luke wandered off to be the hero and a Jedi, it was Wedge who transformed into the ultimate X-Wing pilot. There is, after all, only one pilot who survived two Death Star runs. And it’s Wedge.
From helping to found Rogue Squadron, to commanding Red squadron at Endor,—and then further exploits in the Expanded Universe as he lead the Rogues and founded a second elite pilot team in the Wraiths—Wedge is undoubtedly the most influential X-Wing commander. There was no one who could fly an X-Wing like Wedge to the point he was drawn out of retirement about three or four times, just to get him back commanding troops and flying ships whenever the galaxy was under threat.
Sure, Poe might be new on the scene, but he really does deserve to be this high up—and his turn in The Force Awakens reignited our love of insanely charming X-Wing pilots all over again.
Not only is Poe the best pilot in the Resistance, he displays something rarely seen in the starfighter battles of the Star Wars movies—a genuine joy for piloting. Most of the film’s pilots spend their time in a cockpit tense or relieved that they survived in victory. Poe hoots and hollers with joy as he takes down enemy fighters and blows up Starkiller base, and we can’t help but root for him because of it.
Luke might have gone on to become much more than an X-Wing pilot—but even if he’s more famed as a Jedi, he’s still one of the finest pilots in Star Wars. A natural before he even knew he could tap into the Force, Luke’s years of training with the hopes of entering the Imperial Academy made him a keen shot behind the controls of a ship—and with the Force as his ally, he could do impossible things like blow up the Death Star with a one-in-a-million shot.
Even though he went on to become a Jedi Master, Luke’s piloting legacy lived on thanks to his role in founding Rogue Squadron, the best of the best when it came to X-Wing pilots.
Like many of Star Wars’ best pilots, Tycho started his pilot career for the Empire—but witnessing the destruction of his home planet of Alderaan swayed him to the Rebellion’s cause. Tycho’s skill was so great that Luke immediately recruited him into Rogue Squadron upon his defection, quickly becoming one of the most iconic members behind Luke and Wedge.
Although a brief stint in an A-Wing tarnishes his X-Wing piloting record—he only used it because his X-Wing was damaged before the Battle of Endor—Tycho was considered by the Rogues, the Rebellion at large, and even his former allies in the Empire, as one of the greatest pilots in living history.
Corran Horn’s a triple threat: detective (he used to be a police officer), pilot, and Jedi. When Rogue Squadron was being reformed, Corran was at the top of an already elite group of rookies. As a member of Rogue Squadron, Corran flew into the middle of a storm to take down the shields around Coruscant and, for his trouble, was captured by the Empire. He broke out in time to lead the Rogues in resigning from the New Republic so they could take down the current leader of the Empire, Ysane Isard.
Although Horn became a Jedi Master later in life, he should always be best known for his exploits in the cockpit.
Infamously pessimistic and with a penchant for injuries, Hobbie was one of the original members of Rogue Squadron. Recruited for the squadron under Luke and Wedge, Hobbie flew in both the Battles of Hoth and Endor. Hobbie spent some time training other pilots, before being briefly put in charge of the official Rogue Squadron after Wedge’s reconstituted one resigned. As good as he might have been at training, Hobbie demanded to rejoin the Rogues, where he became one of the most famous X-Wing pilots in the galaxy.
Of “Good shot, Janson,” fame, Wes was likewise an original Rogue-turned-trainer-turned-back-to-Rogue. In addition to flying at Hoth and Endor, Wes is famous for his crack shot abilities and his irrepressible sense of humor. In addition to being a Rogue, Wedge made Wes his executive officer when he founded the Wraiths. Wes tried to retire twice, but was pulled back into service twice. The first time, he turned a group of volunteers into an elite piloting unit. The second time was in support of Luke Skywalker’s fight against Jacen Solo.
Despite starting out his career in the shadow of his cousin, Biggs, Gavin’s long period of service ranks him higher. Gavin joined the New Republic where his skill in an X-Wing landed him in Wedge’s reformed Rogue Squadron. His leadership and flying skill were so good that he assumed command of the elite squadron when Wedge and Tycho retired.
Jaina in her Rogue flightsuit with her brothers Jacen and Anakin, on the cover of The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide II: Ruin.
Another Jedi and pilot, Jaina’s Force skills always tended to the mechanical and piloting. Although it was her mother’s, Leia, insistence that got her into Rogue Squadron, it was her own skill that kept her there and eventually led to her being in charge (along with her brother, but since he was turning evil at the time, he doesn’t get to be on this list).
Another Imperial Alderaanian who defected after the Death Star destroyed the planet, Kasan was already one of the most elite TIE pilots in the Imperial Navy—but her skills flourished when Luke placed her into Rogue Squadron.
Over a series of months, Moor used her knowledge of Imperial plans to plot a campaign against her former superiors, even handing her TIE Interceptor over to the Rogues so they could learn more about the Imperial’s best starfighters.
Myn Donos: trained by Hobbie and Wes, put in charge of his own squadron right out of training, member of both the Wraiths and the Rogues. If he doesn’t represent one of the best X-Wing pilots out there, no one does.
Bror was Corran’s competition for best new Rogue when Wedge rebuilt the squadron. A skilled flyer, Bror left the Rogues to help found his home planet’s aerospace defense force.
Kell was a skilled X-Wing pilot recruited and trained by Wedge for Wraith Squadron, ending up with the highest scores of his training group. He performed a series of terrifying and dangerous manuevers to try to save a fellow Wraith, earning him a commendation. Five kills in one fight made him an instant ace pilot, but Kell had to overcome his third panic attack while flying to do it.
Son of General Airen Cracken, Pash led a whole wing of TIE fighter pilots to defect to the New Republic. He became a mythical pilot in his own time, eventually requesting a transfer to Rogue Squadron to make sure he was as good as everyone kept saying he was. He’s only this low on the list because he spent most his career in an A-Wing. Traitor.
Corran Horn and Asyr Sei’lar, by Frank-Joseph Frelier for Lucasfilm/Suvudu.com
A Bothan who trained in the Bothan Martial Academy, where her skill was equal to that of pilots older than her. Asyr stumbled into the Rogues while they were undercover on Coruscant, ending up a member. She spent years with the Rogues before faking her own death.
Corran’s wingman, Ooryl was a distinguished member of Rogue Squadron. His deeds gained him enough notice that his homeworld of Gand granted him the status of “Janwuine-jika,” which recognizes the most famous and successful Gands as folk-heroes and allows them to use the first person.
Even though she started out loyal to her lover, a member of the Black Sun organized crime syndicate, Inyri eventually proved her loyalty to the Rogues by saving Corran’s life. Instead of being a member of the New Republic’s fighting force, Inyri was made a member by the Rogues themselves after her help when the New Republic took over Coruscant. Since then, she was a constant and skilled member of Rogue Squadron.
Sister to Nien Nunb, Aril was a member of Rogue Squadron who was captured and experimented on by Imperials. She escaped and rejoined her squadron, helping them defeat Ysane Isard. Aril rose through the ranks, eventually becoming an admiral.
You know how secret princesses are also brilliant pilots who quickly rise through the ranks in the most famous X-Wing squadron there is? Yeah, that’s Plourr, who continued to serve with the Rogues whenever she could. Even though she was technically ruling a planet at the same time.
Oh, Biggs. Out of the live action pilots except for Luke and Wedge, he’s probably the one we get to see the most actual flying of in A New Hope, and that was probably enough to make him one of the best. But even with his untimely demise, before the Death Star assault Biggs was a poster boy for the Alliance starfighter corps.
Like many others he was a defecting Imperial, but even Wedge was impressed by Bigg’s innate skill and knowledge of Imperial tactics, speedily propelling him to the position of one of the Alliance’s best pilots. He became an Ace—a pilot with five confirmed kills—in his first ever mission with the Rebels, and was a hero ever since.
The hero of Lost Stars, Claudia Gray’s excellent novel, Thane lead Corona Squadron, in many space battles during the Galactic Civil War. Although he never joined the Rogues, his X-Wing skills gave him a high estimation among his fellow pilots.
But, Thane gets points knocked off because Lost Stars tries to claim that it was his decision to attack the engines of Darth Vader’s Super Star Destroyer Executor during the Battle of Endor that sent the ship crashing down into the second Death Star, not an A-Wing pilot luckily (and hilariously) exploding into the ship’s bridge. You don’t get to deny that, Thane!
The original leader of Red Squadron at the Battle of Yavin, Dreis was beloved by the pilots under his command for his fatherly nature and his keen eye for training Alliance pilots in the art of X-Wing flying. Although he met his end at Vader’s hands at Yavin, Dreis’ skill was undeniable—after all, he nearly made the shot to destroy the Death Star, and that was without the Force to help him.
Gavin’s original wingman in Rogue Squadron and a talented pilot, who was instrumental in the taking of Coruscant by the New Republic and fought with Rogue Squadron against Ysane Isard. It was in that fight that he died, during an ambush.
Another brilliant pilot from Tantooine, Falynn’s career stalled for her tendency to insubordination. She once ended up in a piloting contest against Wedge, which her pure skill brought her close to winning. Wedge’s tactical mind—AKA “cheating”—was what allowed him to win.
Voort saBinring, by Brian Rood for The Essential Readers Companion, via Wookieepedia.
Another member of Wraith Squadron, Piggy was a Gammorean subject of horrifying Imperial experimentation, which resulted in a genius-level mathematical IQ. In addition to being a skilled pilot on his own, Piggy’s math abilities meant he acted as a sort of tactical computer for the rest of his squadron.
Ibtisam’s a weird one. A B-Wing pilot at Endor who miraculously survived the destruction of her ship, upon returning to service she was assigned to Rogue Squadron, an X-Wing group. And she hated it, frequently disparaging the little ship in comparison to what else the Alliance, and then Republic, fleet had to offer.
But the Mon Calamari grew to be one of the Rogue’s finest trainees, with dozens of simulated kills in her training already putting her up with the best of the Squadron even before she got her hands/flippers on an actual X-Wing.
Face Loran was a member of the original Wraith Squadron, eventually becoming its commander. While a semi-skilled pilot with a tendency towards getting ships destroyed, Face’s real skill was in lateral thinking and commanding an Intelligence group.
Originally a bomber pilot, Porkins achieved sixteen kills in under forty hours of combat time. He eventually joined the precursor to the Rogues, Red Squadron, flying with them against the first Death Star, where he unfortunately perished. Yes, there were multiple X-Wing pilots nicknamed “Piggy!”
Like so many of the Wraiths, Shalla eventually ended up working for New Republic Intelligence and shedding her X-Wing pilot status. However, Shalla’s skill is undeniable. For her part as a member of a Wraith operation against Warlord Zsinj, Shalla was allowed to paint half a Super Star Destroyer on her X-Wing as recognition that half of that kill was hers.
Aside from having an incredibly Star-Wars-ian name, Temmins “Snap” Wexley was one of the Resistance’s most valued pilots next to Poe Dameron: he single-handedly scouted out Starkiller Base undetected, allowing the Resistance to discover the planet-destroyer’s weaknesses. He was even one of the handful of X-Wing pilots to survive the attack on the Base, too.
A skilled pilot who joined Rogue Squadron when Wedge rebuilt it, Lujayne’s piloting abilities were the result of learning how to fix and fly landspeeders back home on Kessel. She had some of the lower scores in her unit and died in an Imperial raid of their base.
Niece of the famous Admiral Gial Ackbar, Jesmin joined the Wraiths as other commanders feared putting her in harm’s way because of her uncle. Although she died in the Wraiths, she was an exemplary pilot during that time.
A superstitious pilot, Targon transferred to the Wraiths right after he graduated the New Republic’s Fleet Command Academy. Whereas the first round of Wraiths were washouts and screwups, Elassar chose to join the unit for its elite reputation and fit in almost immediately.
Dia became a pilot out of necessity, getting anyone she could find to teach her so that she could escape her life as a slave. Finally getting free and shooting down the ship of her “owner,” Dia joined Wraith Squadron. She served them well there, saving Kell, Face, and Shalla’s lives by recognizing a trick that was being played on them.
Gara changed identities and sides a lot in her career, but she eventually proved to be totally loyal to the Wraiths. The Empire had turned her into a spy, even though her desire was to be a pilot and she had the skills to back it up. She proved that it was where she belonged when the Wraiths and Rogues broke her indoctrinated loyalty to the Empire.
A member of the Resistance’s Blue Squadron, Jess Pava grew up on tales of Luke’s piloting prowess, which inspired her to join the group in fighting the First Order. Alongside Nien Nunb, Snap Wexley and Poe Dameron, she was one of the handful of X-Wing pilots to survive the battle at Starkiller Base.
Runt was pilot in Wraith Squadron and a member of the Thakwaash, a race which has several personalities for different tasks. His “pilot mind” had a tendency to charge heedlessly into battle screaming war cries. With help from his wingman, Kell, Runt eventually became a stable pilot.
Tyria eventually became a Jedi Knight, but was a pilot and Antarian Ranger before that. Her skills in intrusion and escape—gained as an Antarian Ranger—won her a place in Wraith Squadron. While well-rounded, Tyria’s piloting skills were nowhere near as high as her other ones.
NIEN NUNB TOTALLY COUNTS. Thanks The Force Awakens! 30 years after he co-piloted the Millennium Falcon at Endor, Nien Nunb signed on with the Resistance as part of their starfighter corps, taking flight in an X-Wing in the Battle of Starkiller Base. It might be a downgrade from the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy, but Nunb’s survival at least shows he was a pretty capable X-Wing pilot.
Nawara Ven was a lawyer-turned-pilot who joined Rogue Squadron. While he must have been a skilled pilot to get there, he was in the bottom of the squadron and received an injury while flying which took him out of combat. He stayed on to manage Rogue Squadron as its executive officer, as a recognition of his brilliant mind.
An original member of Wraith Squadron, Grinder was an able pilot. But his virtuosity was in “code slicing,” the Star Wars name for hacking.
Zev may have met his end in a Snowspeeder on Hoth, but before that, Zev was major player in the first incarnation of Rogue Squadron, following its formation after the Battle of Yavin. He had a dodgy experience with the Alliance—he quit shortly after joining thinking they’d been responsible for his parent’s death, but rejoined after discovering it was Imperials pinning the blame on the Rebellion—but that didn’t stop him from being one of the Alliance’s brightest pilot recruits.
He was best known early on for single-handedly engaging (and destroying) three TIE fighters to defend an unarmed transport’s escape, an act which lead to him being recruited into the Rogues.
A member of Red Squadron at Yavin, Branon was an able pilot, but holds an infamous record: he’s the only one of two pilots in the battle to have been taken out by TIE pilots, rather than Vader or the Death Star’s turbolasers. Not the best record to keep.
The other pilot was poor Theron, who died taking a shot to protect Red Leader in the Death Star trench.
Another original Wraith, Phanan was a unit leader in lateral thinking and humor. Allergic to bacta and being shot down twice in five missions, he was considered a liability in his first squadron. As a Wraith, he got to be a member of an elite squadron.
Another code-slicer who joined the elite Wraith unit, Castin’s impulsivity led to his death.
One of the rare named X-Wing pilots to appear in Return of the Jedi (which was pretty much an A-Wing-palooza), Frix was actually a promising potential Rogue before an accident left him mentally scarred. Retired to the support services, Frix was put into an X-Wing at Endor simply because the Alliance was desperate for pilots.
He didn’t help much—he ended up crashing into a Star Destroyer.
Poor Ello Asty was meant to be a brash and reckless pilot in the Resistance (or at least that’s what his action figure said), but he manages to be the only X-Wing pilot who gets taken out not during the battle for Starkiller Base, but the final trench run in The Force Awakens, seconds after it begins.
Cool action figure or not, he was a bit of a chump.
Probably one of the best pilots in history, Fel’s so low on this list because he got that title mostly from his time as TIE pilot for the Empire. And because, while he joined Rogue Squadron after being captured by the Republic, Fel had a nasty habit of joining whoever captured him.
Erisi Dlarit was a good enough pilot to make it into the ranks of the Rogues, but since she ended up being an Imperial spy, she hits the bottom of the list.