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Thursday, June 01, 2023

The Best Bush Pilot in the Outer Rim?

Throughout Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977), Luke Skywalker is implied or outright stated to be a superb pilot. Biggs Darklighter calls Luke "the best bush pilot in the Outer Rim territories" in a deleted scene; we see that Luke seems confident in the briefing room scene before the attack on the Death Star; and of course, Luke survives the battle and fires the torpedo that destroyed the station. When I saw the movie for the first time, I remember thinking that there would probably be more Star Wars movies and we'd get to see Luke in more space battles. 

And sure enough, in The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 1980), Luke flies a snowspeeder into battle and seems a pretty deft hand at the task. On the other hand, he also crashes his X-wing later in the film. And Luke doesn't engage in any kind of dogfight in Return of the Jedi (Richard Marquand, 1983). 

So after all the buildup of Luke as the greatest pilot ever in the first film, we only get to see him pilot the iconic X-wing into battle once. That just seems weird to me now, almost 50 years later.


1 comment:

Jeff Shyluk said...

That is weird. I can't say I've thought about this all that much, and I have seen Star Wars hundreds of times over my life. You are entirely correct.

Part of Luke's piloting duties become offloaded onto Wedge, who is more dedicated to the Rebel command hierarchy and also who has little to no use for The Force.

I guess that's why Luke stops piloting in dangerous situations, he is needed as the narrative's go-between for Force and non-Force characters. There seems to be only one thing The Force can do for you as a combat pilot, and that's to make you shoot straighter. Or, in Darth Vader's case, to shoot crookeder, although you can read about some canon regarding swivelling guns built into a few TIE Fighters. Since Luke used up that trait in the first film, it would be gratuitous for him to do it in all the rest of the films, although the best bush pilot in the Outer Rim would have solved the Death Star II with great efficiency, if not the AT-AT attack had he chosen his X-Wing instead of the snow speeder.