Ace Pilot

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I heard a rumor that Vader had his TIE prototype made to stop this guy from vaping him in simulator battles.
"They flew with heart and brains and their entire being."
X Wing Series, Corran Horn

In Real Life, an ace is technically a pilot with five or more kills. This is harder than it sounds; even in conflicts like World War II, where aerial combat occurred on a vast scale, the average fighter pilot had zero confirmed kills from the day he got his wings to the day he bought his farm. The term is most commonly associated with aircraft pilots, but other types, such as tank aces, also exist. Ace pilots are common in fiction, most prominently in mecha shows. They tend to be more prominent in Real Robot shows, where the mecha themselves are fairly equal and the pilot's skills are more important, than Super Robot shows, which place more emphasis on the power of the mecha and heroic hot-bloodedness.

An Ace Pilot will likely display all sorts of Improbable Piloting Skills, such as the High-Speed Missile Dodge. Aces may or may not come with wingmates. They will often have Machine Empathy, allowing them to sense problems from subtle differences in how their craft moves/feels/sounds. Depending on the time period, may wear an Adventurer Outfit.

An Ace Pilot is not necessarily The Ace in terms of personality, although they can be. Famous aces may be given a cool-sounding nickname like, oh, say, the Red Baron.

Piloting Styles Preferred By Aces

  • Steamrollers are aggressive types who favor in-your-face frontal assaults, raining blows on their enemy to keep them off-balance. Experienced pilots can almost always dodge a frontal attack, but if you keep pressing the attack, sooner or later they might slip up and take a hit.
  • Bushwhackers are cunning, devious pilots who eschew easy-to-evade frontal attacks in favor of taking potshots from the rear or other blind spots. When engaged in a duel, they try to wriggle out of it and drop out of the enemy's field of view so they can come in from another direction and catch the foe off-guard. Frequently, bushwackers will sacrifice spare weapons as decoys, distracting the enemy so they can ambush them from behind (e.g, the Picard Maneuver).
  • Snipers are similar to bushwackers, but lack the skill to escape a duel. Instead, they hide behind asteroids and colonies, popping up to take potshots at their targets, and try to avoid close combat and running from battles at all costs.
  • Pluggers—for want of a better term—are defensive players, who manage to stay calm and collected even under continuing attacks from bushwackers or steamrollers. By continually dodging and deflecting enemy attacks, they can tie up otherwise dangerous foes in time-wasting sparring matches, and may even be able to sneak in the occasional counterattack.
Examples of Ace Pilot include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Pete Pumps from Ginban Kaleidoscope was this before he died in episode 1.
  • The Macross franchise has a bunch, and an interesting tradition of the best pilot in the show not being the main character:
    • Max Jenius in the original, and Milia Fallyna on the other side, until the two fell in love and she defected.
    • While not the absolute best, the hero, Hikaru Ichijyo, was an extremely skilled pilot as well.
      • As was his sempai, Roy Focker.
    • Sylvie Gina and Nexx Gilbert in Macross II. (The main character, Hibiki Kanzaki, is an Ace Reporter flying unarmed civilian craft instead.)
    • Gamlin in Macross 7
    • Ozma Lee in Macross Frontier is a match for Alto; the two fought to a draw.
  • Even Robotech follows Macross' tradition of the best pilot not being the main character (aside from Max and Miriya), with Maia Sterling in Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles
  • Science Ninja Team Gatchaman AKA Battle of the Planets AKA G-Force AKA Eagle Riders gives us two in Ken The Eagle (who is named Ace in G-Force) and the man known as Red Impulse.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion, despite being mostly Super Robot-inspired, gives us professional kid pilot Asuka to contrast Shinji, the epitome of Ordinary High School Student spineless protagonists. Of course, it's Evangelion, so all the piloting skill in the world won't save you. It will make you look like a Hot-Blooded Badass in The Movie, though.
    • Unlike even most other Super Robot Shows, actual Piloting Skill barely means anything at all. The only reason Asuka is an Ace Pilot is...literally...because she THINKS she is. She didn't even "pilot" her own Eva, before her first confrontation with an Angel. Meaning Shinji actually has MORE experience than her in actual synchonization.
      • Not supported in-story. Anyway, the big dividing line for piloting isn't sync ratios, it's temperament. The first time Shinji tries to take the lead, he freezes and ends up trapped. Which leaves Asuka up a building (because she didn't freeze and improvised), and feeling guilty for putting that idiot up to it.
        • Well, said target already caught him anyway by the time he could improvise. Afterwards, Asuka had the benefit of knowing what the hell it could do. If their positions were reversed, Asuka would have probably been absorbed in his stead.
          • Even though their not really Ace Pilots, they still have similarities to the styles of combat. Rei is most effective as Sniper/Support, Asuka is a Steamroller, and Shinji....uhh...well, a Steamroller that only activates after his Limit Breaks? In the versions Kaworu actually pilots, he's essentially a Plugger since he always remain calm even in the face of death/end of the world/warping of reality.
  • Akito Tenkawa of Martian Successor Nadesico, as well as his mentor Gai, pretty much do this, though the former is also known to use Bushwhacker-style tricks when the situation calls for it. Akatsuki & Ryoko are probably the best Aestivalis pilots in the series, though.
  • Code Geass has two main examples, Kururugi Suzaku for Britannia and Kallen Stadtfeld/Kozuki for the Black Knights. Several others can be considered above average such as some of the Knights of the Round, and some of the Black Knights, but none of them hold a candle to the above two.
    • Kallen Stadtfeld from Code Geass is a definite steamroller, which is required because her only useful weapon is close-range, which means that she has to be aggressive in order to survive. Even when she gets long-range attacks, she sticks to this in most cases.
    • In an odd case of "Unstopable force meets Immovable Object", Suzaku Kururugi uses the same strategy, even though he uses a well-rounded machine not nearly as suited to it as hers is. But Suzaku, being Suzaku, simply fails to capitalize on this in areas that his opponents lack... unless he's on a mission. This is particularly telling with any battle where he and Kozuki clash, save when emotions get in the way.
  • Noa Izumi from Patlabor. She's not really amazingly good, though, so much as always reliable, and in the ultimate Real Robot series that counts for a lot more.
    • In one episode, her "forward" points out that her reaction time is worse than Ohta's, but her motions are more efficient (Ohta will start moving first, but Izumi will complete the action first).
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S has Nanoha in a high-ranking position in an alien air-force, the lack of planes not being an issue when you can fly without them. In fact, her official in-show nickname is "Ace of Aces".
    • Her combat style is steamroller. It is worth noting that mages in Nanoha have strong shields, and mentally-guided projectiles help with aiming, so it's more a matter of "breaking through their shields with brute force" than "hoping they'll slip up and take a hit".
    • The one ace Nanoha has never beaten in a square fight is Signum. She's the ultimate plugger, wearing down her enemies with a strong defense before unleashing her own Wave Motion Sword.
  • The various versions of Area 88 feature many aces among the mercenary pilots, including protagonist Shin Kazama, his friend Mickey Simon, and base commander Saki Vashtal. There are others, but they tended to die shortly after being introduced.
  • Strike Witches features various historical World War II aces... re-imagined as Lolis. With animal ears. And no pants. In terms of tactics, most of them appear to be Bushwhackers or Steamrollers, while Sanya and Lynette are Snipers.
  • Overman King Gainer has three main ace pilots Gainer Sanga, Gain Bijou, and Cynthia Lane.
  • Lt. Fukai Rei from Sentou Yousei Yukikaze is an Ace Pilot on his own right but his close relationship with his plane's AI makes him even more effective.
  • Porco Rosso.
  • Both Klaus and his mother of Hyakujitsu no Bara are flying aces, Klaus having at least 10 confirmed kills marked on his plane's tail in one flashback.
  • Similar to the Lyrical Nanoha example above, Mai-Otome has plenty of aces among the Otome. The two top combat aces, Haruka and Shizuru, are textbook examples of the Steamroller and Bushwhacker respectively.
  • Simon the Digger, full stop.
  • Noriko Takaya evolves into one nearer the end of the series. Kazumi Amano and Jung Frued are introduced that way.


Gundam[edit | hide]

  • Various Gundam series.
    • The original Mobile Suit Gundam, of course, had Amuro Ray and Char Aznable, as well as a succession of other Zeon aces such as Ramba Ral and the Black Tri-Stars, though UC finale movie Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack made pretty clear Char wasn't enough of a rival.
      • Char's second coming, Full Frontal, is primarily also a steamroller who shows that his performance on the field isn't just because of the Sinanju, but he is also shown to be more adaptive, pulling Bushwhacker tricks with his utilization of the debris field and his own propellant tanks to throw off the Unicorn and the Londo Bell MS Team.
      • The side stories gives us many more aces of the One Year War and beyond, with pilots like Shin Matsunaga, Johnny Ridden, Anavel Gato, Agar, Lydo Wolf and Ken Bederstadt who all get awesome names and back stories that tell of their skills. There are many more names, but props really just have to be given to the Zeon and EFSF's highest scoring aces, Breniff Oguz and Tenneth Jung, both of whom are snipers.
    • Zeta Gundam's main character Kamille is arguably not the best pilot, since he draws a lot of strength from his Newtype powers. Char Quattro might be number one here. Also of note is Yazan Gable. He favored the steam-roller approach and despite being a natural he often gave Kamille and Char, who are both newtypes, a difficult fight.
    • Gundam ZZ's main cast also relies on Newtype powers for the most part. It's hard to find a good pilot who isn't equipped with an overpowered suit or Newtype powers.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team was something of a break from standard Gundam fare in this regard, as none of the protagonists were considered aces even if they were arguably skilled pilots (except for Terry Sanders Jr, who had exactly five kills), and the show goes out of its way to differentiate merely being good and being an actual ace. Though most of the eponymous team are experienced pilots by the end, Norris Packard, the only character to be termed an ace, is in a league of his own. A classic bushwhacker, he was able to take on the entire 8th MS team on his own and keep them on the ropes through creative use of equipment and terrain.
    • MS IGLOO 2 has Herman Yandell display Ace tank gunnery (and command), although his Ace status might be in question as he's mostly known around EFGF tank battalions as a Sole Survivor, but it counts as he's got the highest score amongst all of them and is the only one to ever return from fighting "The White Ogre" Elmer Snell, who's a Steamroller. Yandell's tactics put him as a Bushwhacker, as he's shown to take advantage of a previous battlefield's environment and its remains, make full use of the tank's extensive loadout and even use his own allies to trick the enemy. Likely a necessary thing as pulling a Steamroller on a Zaku with a tank would get one killed.
      • Major Jean Luc Duvall from the first set of MS IGLOO movies was presented as Zimmad Corporation's ace who was sent to show the awesomeness of the Zudah. He certainly moves like an ace, of which kind I'm not sure, since he struck at the Ball and GM teams like a Steamroller, then ran and forced the GMs to chase him and burn out their own engines before blowing up himself.
    • Umon of Crossbone Gundam is notable for two reasons - firstly, he made ace in a single battle during the OYW by destroying six Doms. Secondly, he pulled this feat off while piloting a Ball.
    • Usso Evin, despite being 13 years old, favored bushwacking tactics because he primarily took part in guerrilla warfare, wishes to avoid killing if possible, and because by that point (UC 153) weapons are so powerful that a single hit from a beam rifle is enough to destroy a mobile suit (provided it hits the torso containing the nuclear reactor and the cockpit). Nevertheless, he cemented his ace pilot status by using all other styles at least once and regularly defeating superior numbers thanks to the sheer tactical adaptability and creativity that he displayed (with ideas such as creating a small tsunami to use as a decoy).
    • Mobile Fighter G Gundam is filled with obvious elite pilots, though they are more Martial Artists from Hell than real pilots. (Still, most notable are probably Domon, Master Asia and Schwarz Bruder.)
    • Gundam Wing's title probably has to be given to Rent-a-Char Zechs Merquise/Milliardo Peacecraft. Though he loses to main character Heero, he is pretty awesome and has earned the title Lightning Baron in countless battles.
      • Lucrezia Noin is also incredibly notable in this category. She's a Plugger, through and through, yet is often almost outright stated to have been holding back whenever Zechs is around. Combined with the fact that she's always a tech level or three below the enemy,[1] and the fact that Noin always survives without being taken out of the fight[2]... and you have a pilot who might as well be the most skilled character in the damned show.
      • There's also Treize Khushrenada, who goes into battle near the end of the series with a straight copy of the by then hopelessly obsolete Tallgeese. He duels Wufei's upgraded Altron Gundam and more than holds his own, to the point that he only lost because he threw the fight.
        • To be fair though, Wufei's Arrogant Kung Fu Guy personality flat out prevented him from using his own Gundam to its full potential, acknowledging Treize's mech's limitations and refusing to use his Dragons. He insisted on fighting Treize on no less than equal ground.
    • Gundam X's Big Bad duo, the Frost brothers, often serve the role as Pluggers of all things. Garrod is mostly a steamroller, albeit an incredibly adaptable one. There's also Lancerow Dowell, the resident Char Clone.
    • Gundam SEED's Ace Pilot is Mu La Flaga, who holds his own against genetically-engineered Coordinators in Bigger Stick mobile suits even though he himself is an unmodified Natural piloting either made-of-cardboard mobile armors and fighter jets or hand-me-down mecha. Kira Yamato, though he could probably beat the rest of the entire cast single-handedly, relies more on top-of-the-line mecha and inborn natural ability.
      • Mu's rival, Rau Le Creuset is a Sniper, who can take on more or less any member of the cast, including Kira.
    • Shinn on the other hand, seems to use Bushwhacker tactics when using Force or Blast Impulse, and switches to Steamroller ones when using Sword Impulse or the eponymous Destiny G.
      • Not to be outdone, the Cosmic Era has it's own share of side stories with aces to show off, such as Sven Cal Bayan, who seems to share Char's indirect steamroller manoeuvres and Edward "the Ripper" Harrelson, who was a very close combat focused steamroller, even before the Earth Alliance got mobile suits. One character of note here, is Shiho Hahnenfuss, the only MSV pilot to have had an appearance before the MSV were even made (first seen in episode 48 of SEED). The few appearances of her indicate that she's a steamroller and she's crossed swords at least once with EAF ace Rena Imelia.
    • The main of Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Setsuna F. Seiei, is pretty much a decided Steamroller in the first season, what with even being willing to throw any of his seven blades at the enemy to get a chance at them. He's arguably mixed with a Bushwhacker in the second season, but still retains his 'suicidal attack' method.
    • Graham Acre is also an excellent example of a steamroller from the same show, as he is capable of taking one of the most screwed-over and patched-together units ever with only a single melee weapon, and wiping out a vastly superior opponent in his final fight of the season. Admittedly, he did this at the expense of his own unit, but hey. A win is a win.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • The Blackhawks
  • Jet Dream
  • Examples from DC Comics war features:
    • Johnny Cloud, aka "The Navajo Ace" (a literal WWII ace)
    • Hans Von Hammer in Enemy Ace.
    • Steve Savage, the Balloon Buster in WWI.
  • French 1960s (and onward) Tanguy Et Laverdure had Michel Tanguy and Ernest Laverdure.
  • The Marvel version of G.I. Joe had several ace pilots on both sides. Ace, Slipstream, Wild Bill, and Maverick come to mind for the Joes. Wild Weasel was one for Cobra.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Han Solo is a huge example of this, throughout the whole Star Wars series. He flies around in a junky ship that should, really, not be able to fly, and yet he manages to evade and confuse Imperial fleets while sipping tea, wittily insulting C-3PO, and flirting up the Princess.
    • That said, the Millennium Falcon is often referenced as one of the better in the galaxy, it looks like a scrap heap because Han believes functionality is more important than looks. But regardless of the upgrades, the fact that Han outflies fighters in a transport remains very impressive.
    • Don't forget Luke Skywalker, who has a Death Star to his credit.
    • And as much as we would like to, we can't forget Anakin, who was outflying professional fighter pilots by the time he was 9!
    • Well, Wedge Antilles one-ups Luke: He has two Death Stars on his plane. (Luke was doing something more important during the second one, but nonetheless.)
      • Wedge's first silhouette is because he attacked the place and lived to tell about it, something that can only be claimed by two other people: Luke Skywalker and Keyan Farlander, both of whom are The Hero (the latter is the Featureless Protagonist of the Star Wars: X-Wing video games) and both of whom are also Force-sensitive. He really does deserve some Badass Normal points here.
        • Aside from the two Death Stars he also has so many fighter kills that his ground crew chief switched to painting on kill marks for whole squadrons instead of single ships because he ran out of room on the X-Wing's flank.
  • The Right Stuff has gobs of them, not just the Mercury astronauts and Mr. Ace Pilot, Chuck Yeager himself, but peripheral characters such as Slick and Scott Crossfield. They were doing stuff back in the Fifties that would make Travis Pastrana wet his pants even today. Made even more awesome because it's all true.
  • Top Gun may be the quintessential modern Ace Pilot film, featuring the eponymous advanced flight combat school that you don't even get into unless you're already "the best of the best".
  • Iron Eagle is all about this as well, as a Follow the Leader to Top Gun. Doug Masters is so good that he can outfly veteran pilots as a teenager with no formal training.
  • Lost In Space - Major Don West gets assigned to the expedition because of his piloting skills (and problems with authority).
    • Bonus points because the General who assigns Major West to the expedition is none other than Mark Goddard... the original Major West from the TV series! (The movie features at least two other actors from the TV show. Angela Cartwright, who played Penny Robinson, was one of the reporters at the unveiling of the Jupiter 2. Nobody could have failed to notice June Lockheart, who played Maureen Robinson, as Principal Cartwright.)
  • Captain Steven Hiller in Independence Day, who managed to take out an alien fighter ship surrounded by an impenetrable force field using some tricky flying and his parachute, in a dogfight that destroyed the entire rest of his squadron. Later, he pilots another alien fighter ship in execution of a plan that would lead to the destruction of a mothership a quarter the size of the moon, and containing probably several thousand colony ships and the vast majority of the alien race.
  • Amber of Sucker Punch in the dream sequences. She not only pilots bombers, but she has also piloted a Mini-Mecha.
  • Rafe and Danny of Pearl Harbor.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • There were plenty of "air adventure" series for boys written as propaganda during WWII (and a few during the '30s). Dave Dawson, Red Randall, Lucky Terrell, and A Yank in the RAF were just a few.
  • Biggles
  • The X Wing Series in the Star Wars Expanded Universe delves quite deeply into the fighter pilots of the Rebels/New Republic, as led by Wedge Antilles. All sorts of pilot types, especially The Ace, make appearances, and there are discussions of the five-kill rule, becoming an "instant ace", rivalries between pilots, and many more. Demonstrations of styles include:
    • Wes Janson - Definite Sniper, though with better dogfighting skills than the typical Sniper. He's a sniper with pretty much any ranged weapon, in or out of the cockpit.
    • Wedge Antilles - Most likely Steamroller. Against most opponents, he's simply too good to be nailed down to a particular tactic, but when the enemy has him boxed up, he tends to get increasingly daring. Further, his save of Luke, in the original movie, is pure steamroller. He's noticed his own Plot Armor, and at the start of the series the kill silhouettes painted on his X-Wing include two Death Stars and an alarming number of other big ships. He's shot down so many starfighters by that point that a mechanic apologizes for not being able to fit them all into the space allotted, and had to render some in red, marking a squadron's worth of kills. Being Wedge, it makes no difference to him how his kills are grouped; he never brags about being one of the best pilots in history.
      • He's shown to have a strange grasp on what his opponents are thinking and what they'll do - before they do it. It's powerful enough that he once calls it "precognitive", though immediately after that he chalks it up to pure pattern-recognition gained through endless hours of experience. Wedge also has the ability to think incredibly fast in high stress situations, taking the circumstances in and making a complicated decision in a second or less. This has nothing to do with The Force.
      • Wedge has a counterpart in his brother-in-law Worthy Opponent Baron Fel, who is the page image. Fel is Badass enough that it's canon he reestablishes the Empire...
      • The first of the Wraith Squadron sub-series has the New Meat pilots ask Wes Janson and Wedge who was the best pilot they ever flew with: the two of them reminisce at length about skilled pilots who died due to bad luck, and others like Skywalker who had incredible skills but moved on to other things. Wes concludes that the only real way to objectively measure pilot skill is total kill count, making Wedge Antilles the best pilot in history. Wedge, naturally, demurs.
    • Tycho Celchu - Probably Bushwhacker. His flying style is described by a Force-sensitive opponent (who is also a phenomenal pilot) as being incredibly complex, with him constantly thinking of ways to box in the enemy, anticipating his moves, and potential paths out of the line of fire and back to a position behind the enemy. Wedge once says, "You see a target coming in, you see him launch missiles, choose one vector for him and fire in that direction. One time in ten you'll choose right and you'll vape him. Unless you're Tycho Celchu, when it's one time in four."
    • Derek "Hobbie" Klivian is a pilot known for his remarkable skill at surviving, despite runs of bad luck; few of his tactics are seen, but his ability to keep alive, turning even lethal shots into hits that allow him to eject and recover, may be evidence of being of Plugger.
    • There are plenty of other pilots, but those four illustrate the styles best. Another EU book, Death Star, makes it clear that Darth Vader, doesn't really fit any category, except perhaps the double-secret probationary Sniperollbushplugwhacker. He was able to make the second best Imperial pilot, pictured above, who is good enough to make a decent protagonist pilot feel like a child who can barely walk trying to keep up with a champion distance runner, look like a clueless farmboy. Casually. And without using a targeting computer, which, the protagonist believes, is outright impossible. The Force—and to be completely accurate, thirty-plus years of experience and ageless cybernetic components—helps pilots, clearly.
      • ...Until we get into George Lucas's declaration that Force ability is due, not to midi-chlorian density, but gross tonnage. Vader became weaker in the Force when he lost his limbs, because some of his midi-chlorians went with them.
        • Another thing to take into account is just how much of Vader's body is cybernetic. Think about how a pilot experiences extreme movement of blood from the extremities to the brain during strenuous maneuvers. Now think about a pilot without extremities, whose body doesn't have the same necessities as a typical human. And give him the power of the force.
    • In the X Wing Series' ninth book, Starfighters of Adumar, the titular planet is a Planet of Hats where Ace Pilots are the elite of society. But since it's also a Proud Warrior Race which sees no point in simulator practice, and the attrition rates of new pilots are appalling, none of them are very skilled. This means that when the New Republic and the Imperial Remnant send their best pilots alive there on a diplomatic function, said pilots are all but worshiped. And subject to endless attempts to kill them for their status.
  • The Bloody Red Baron by Kim Newman is a Massive Multiplayer Crossover set during World War I, that sees Biggles, Captain Midnight and The Shadow go up against the Red Baron, Hans von Hammer and Airboy's ally the Heap. Oh, and they're all vampires!
  • Simon Black, the Australian hero of the 1950's 'Boys Own'-type adventure series by Ivan Southall.
  • Benjamin St. John of the Descent novels is described as having the potential to be the "greatest pilot of the century", which he has not quite achieved. But by the second book, with all the insane wacky piloting he does, no one's doubting the truth behind that statement. Most of his success lies in the fact that he has a habit of taking ludicrous risks and somehow making it out alive (he once, without any propelling power left in his plane, glided into a Martian sandstorm to evade his pursuers).
  • In the Larry Bond novel Red Phoenix set during a Second Korean War, one USAF F-16 pilot gets over 13 North Korean aircraft before being shot down. He is rescued by South Korean Special Forces, survives the novel and gets the girl.
  • In The Sixth Battle, there is a discussion of ace pilots among the pilots of Langley, some who get the title themselves.
  • In Dragonriders of Pern, Anne McCaffrey said that she intentionally modeled the personalities of many of her dragonriders on the Ace Pilot archetype, and for very much the same reasons - they're engaged in an incredibly dangerous business where quick reflexes are critical for survival, said business is critical for the survival of humanity, and the risk of horrible death looms over every flight.
  • Rainbow Six has Lt. Colonel Dan Malloy, a hot hand at using his chopper to get the Badass Crew into place.
  • Double Eagle is a Warhammer 40,000 novel with every single protagonist being one of these. Oskar Viltry is a rare bomber-flying version Though later he switches to fighters.
  • BattleTech has several Ace Pilots, the most famous of which being Kai Allard-Liao, Champion of Solaris, and Natasha Kerensky, The Black Widow.
  • Lacuna has Alex "Jazz" Aharoni, who comes aboard the ship as the best pilot the Israeli air-force could muster.
  • Mack Maloney's Wingman series features a number of Ace Pilots among the protagonists, but especially Hawk Hunter, the title character.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In the 2000s Battlestar Galactica, Starbuck was played straight as the best pilot in the Fleet, with the kill count and retina-detaching moves to match (including jamming the nose of her Viper up the thrusters of Apollo's to bring him home when it lost power - in the middle of a battle!). Also, plenty of pilots will claim to be able to fly anything with wings. But how many of them could climb inside something's dead body and fly its brain?
    • Starbuck may be the Fleet's Top Gun, but Apollo is second only to her, even pulling off a few Starbuck-worthy moves in his own right when an injury puts her out of commission.
    • There was also an entire episode dealing with the Cylon ace, Scar, who's a Bushwacker/Sniper using his wingman as a decoy. Given how they are described as being more like pets than anything else, his animal cunning puts this troper, for some reason, in mind of a man-eating lion, which seems oddly apropos. Of course, Scar had one big difference from every other Ace on this page: he couldn't die, at least not permanently. He was ressurrected and reloaded into fighter bodies countless times, until he seemingly had too much experience to be beaten at all. Sure, he had countless kills, but he himself was killed a significant number of times - and every time he died, he got angrier and angrier.
    • Most of the original series Battlestar Galactica pilots were these: Apollo, Starbuck, Boomer, Jolly, Greenbean, Cree, Sheeba. If you weren't a Bridge Bunny, you were probably an Ace Pilot. Justified in that only the very best pilots survived the destruction of the fleet.
  • Stringfellow Hawke from Airwolf is a helicopter ace several times over in the eponymous chopper, including:
    • 4 Cuban MiG-19s in one go.
    • Two WWII bombers, on separate occasions, the latter being missile armed.
    • Another version of his own chopper.
    • An experimental attack chopper, known as "HX-1".
    • A Soviet Kalmar/"Delta III" class SSBN.
    • A lot of MD 500 look-a-likes.
  • Dominic Santini, from the same show, almost certainly got more than five in WW 2.
  • The Blackadder Goes Forth incarnation of Lord Flashheart is a parody of the trope.
  • Stargate Atlantis has John Sheppard as the quintessential Ace Pilot who can fly anything and isn't afraid of proving it. He is seen flying a helicopter, Puddlejumpers, F-302s and a Dart. And a hollow asteroid. And, once or twice, an entire city.
  • Hoban Washburne of Firefly is a genius pilot who is said to be able to "thread a needle" with a Firefly-class freighter--and the skills he's shown backs it up. Because Serenity is completely unarmed (except for its destructive engine exhaust), Wash is restricted to playing as a plugger, with emphasis on outmaneuvering and evading his opponents instead of defeating them in a straightforward confrontation.
  • Greg "Pappy" Boyington from Black Sheep Squadron, both on the show and in real-life was an ace pilot in World War II, having shot down between two to six Japanese planes while he was with the Flying Tigers and 22 more with the Marine Corps.
  • Executive Meddling forced J. Michael Straczynski to add one of these in the second season of Babylon 5. He responded by having the pilot do nothing for almost the entire season and then killing him off at the season's end.
  • Star Trek: Voyager had Tom Paris, who had been flying since he was five years old.
    • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Commander Riker was stated (and briefly shown) to be the best pilot on board.
      • Mainly because he's the only pilot on board. Or at least the only one capable of flying the Enterprise on manual. Riker's much-maligned joystick in Star Trek: Insurrection is actually a faster, more precise, and simpler way to control the ship than typing commands into the computer (or however the heck the helmsman normally controls the ship).
  • Jake Cutter from Tales of the Gold Monkey is one of the Plugger variety (considering his plane is an unarmed Grumman Goose flying boat, he's rather obligated to be). He is also a literal Ace, having five confirmed victories flying against the Japanese when he was with the Flying Tigers.
  • Howlin' Mad Murdock from The A-Team was most certainly one of these: he flew a small jet, a jumbo jet, a biplane, many small passenger planes, a jetpack, and untold numbers of helicopters over the course of the series. Other characters (especially the colonels and general chasing after the A-Team) acknowledged Murdock's mad skills. Whether he's a Steamroller, a Bushwhacker, or a Plugger depends on the episode. Given his Craziness, it makes (relative) sense for him to be all three.
  • The Alternate Rimmer in Red Dwarf is so much this trope that they even named him Ace. "Smoke me a Kipper...!"


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • The Star Wars d20 roleplaying game has always had some kind of Ace prestige class. The revised d20 edition had two: the Ace Pilot and the Jedi Ace. And since the Ace Pilot had 10 levels and the Jedi Ace had 5, the really dedicated Force-sensitive pilot character could max out both.
  • Ace of Aces was a game which simulated combat between two World War I biplanes using only two matching books, each filled with views of the opponent, seen from the cockpit of the player's plane. The players selected their next move, exchanged numbers and ended up on a new page showing the result. If a player choose badly, this could be a shot of incoming machine-gun fire.
  • d20 Future's "Dogfighter" advanced class.
  • Aeronautica Imperialis has pilot skill ratings used to determine the chances of a pilot pulling off an impossible maneuver (e.g. flying at '0' altitude, normally a crash for a non-ace pilot, and not dying). 'Ace' pilots (those who have scored five kills) have a better pilot skill rating (generally 3+ or 2+ instead of 4+ or 3+) and thus a better chance of not dying.
    • And then you have the Nightwing squadron of four planes that shot down sixty six hostile fighters in one engagement. Technically impossible under the AI rules due to the fact that a Nightwing has enough ammo to down only nine fighters before being forced to disengage (and you'd have to be really lucky to pull it off anyway), but possible using the Apocalypse rules.
  • BattleTech also has pilot skill ratings along with gunnery skills for marksmanship. The piloting skill is used for everything from preventing your 'Mech from overheating to jumping on top of your opponenet's mech and crushing it beneath you.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The main protagonists from Sigma Star Saga are both Ace Pilots.
  • Jonathan, from Advance Wars: Eternal War. Played with, in that he also gets good land units, at the cost of poor naval units and infantry.
    • Robyn. taken to extremes in that she loves staring at the sky, and hates pollution.
      • Small irony then that jets are frankly awful for the environment. They don't run on captured sunbeams.
  • The Wing Commander series always has you play an ace pilot, and furthermore, features a group of different aces that you will fly with during missions, each of which has different temperaments and tactics in battle. Some games even put personalized Aces on the enemy side, each of which can generally be described as conforming to one of the types above.
  • The Aggressors from Super Robot Wars Original Generation were the founders of mecha combat, and are still some of the best mecha pilots in the game. Also The Federation ran the School, an experiment in turning children into ace pilots - the only four to survive were Ouka, Seolla, Arado, and Latooni, also some of the best pilots in the game (though you only get Ouka for one level). Also anyone with a last name that ends in -stein (Branstein, Garstein).
    • Which makes Elzam (a Branstein and an Aggressor) wicked awesome.
    • There's also the ATX team in which during the first game Kyosuke Excellen and Bullet are at the same level if not surpassing the Aggressors to the point where Sanger Zonvolt Aggressor and arguably most Badass in the OG verse so far believes they have a better chance of beating the aliens than HE does.
    • In fact nearly everyone on your team is an Ace Pilot either by insane skill(ATX, Aggressors, Axel, Irm and Ring), developed Telekinesis ablities (Ryusei, Aya, Kusuha and company) or by being the only pilots capable of operating unique and extremely powerful machines (Masaki, Lune, Kouta, Folka etc) Really the reason the OG group is so unbeatable is because they have nearly every Ace in the EFA in one group.
    • Also, in many of the Super Robot Wars games, once a pilot racks up 50 or more kills in a playthrough, they're given the status of "Ace", which gives various advantages depending on the game and character, ranging from slightly higher starting morale to all manner of dodge and damage bonuses. Super Robot Wars W takes this even further with W (pronounced Double) Ace status upon reaching 100 kills, and gives an even more dramatic bonus.
  • Project Sylpheed, Free Space, various Star Wars games, face it, you WILL be playing as an ace pilot in any space shooter.
    • In Freespace, you're not awarded an Ace medal until you've scored sixty kills. Double- and Triple-Ace medals also exist for reaching 150 and 350 kills.
  • Ace Combat pretty much speaks for itself.
    • To elaborate on Solo Wing Pixy's quote, Ace Combat Zero introduced its own ace style classification based on a simple Karma Meter: the Knight Ace only kills the targets he is ordered to kill, sparing the neutral ones (civilian facilities, damaged enemy planes, etc.), even though that brings him little in terms of cash; the Mercenary Ace kills everything he can get his sights locked on and gains money for each kill; and the Soldier Ace finds a compromise between his conscience and material needs. Gameplay-wise, the Mercenary gets to buy better planes early on but has to face tougher enemy aces, while the Knight fights less aggressive enemies and receives heartwarming presents from civilians he just liberated.
      • Also in Ace Combat Zero, some prime examples of Snipers would be Schnee Squadron, whose main tactics include electronic jamming and long-range Phoenix missiles.
    • Bonus points to Ace Combat 04 for giving the actual definition of the term.
  • In Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, the character Atton Rand seems to be the token "ace pilot" character, particularly in terms of personality. However, under his control, the ships you travel in during the game seem to crash an uncanny number of times...
    • Kreia and Bao-dur both comment on this as the game goes on. According to Atton, the only reason the lot of you are still standing is because he is a good enough pilot to land a half-exploded shuttle instead of slamming it nose-first into a hill.
    • In the first game, being an excellent pilot is Carth Onasi's Informed Ability. He at least only crashed once, and it was more like a controlled emergency landing after one of the Hawk's engines is blown out by the Star Forge's defenses. Between that, and getting safely off Taris during an orbital bombardement, Carth's on-screen record is better than poor Atton's. Although in all fairness the fact you survived getting shot down either time on Telos or survived the weird phenomena on Malachor V was because of Atton's brilliant effort in getting his burning up ship to a relatively safe landing spot. Or so he says.
    • Likewise, you take on the role of an Ace Pilot in both the X-wing and TIE Fighter games, and proceed to kill hundreds upon hundreds of government employees doin' their jobs/the good guys. You dick.
  • Eagle from the Advance Wars series, to the point that it's his entire personality.
    • Days of Ruin gave us two: the revenge-driven Tasha and the Smug Snake Waylon.
  • The entire Star Fox Team, of course... except maybe Slippy.
    • Especially Falco. That's his thing. He's even slightly more competent in the actual gameplay.
  • Freelancer is pretty much crawling with them. Trent (your character), unsurprisingly is one of the best, out of everybody in the game. Literally, considering the premise of this game.
  • In Ace Online (A.K.A. Air Rivals), players with enough PvP kills earn ranks and titles, one of which is "ace." All of the listed piloting styles exist in this game in some shape or form, although every player must utilize each of them for different situations and types of enemies.
  • Crimson Skies had the main Character Nathan Zachary, and his crew of Ace Air Pirates.
    • When you hit the ground, tell'em Nathan Zachary sent ya! - Nathan Zachary
  • In Infinite Space, you'll find a few recruitables with ace piloting skills, and you'll notice how they can turn the tide of a battle when used right. Most notable of these come in Act 2 (Namely Mihhaelo Luka and Volo Naturo), since in Act 1, only Gadina has the skill while Johano Sceptro and Brava Soneto only have some close stats.
  • Strangely, Ultima I, as part of the main plot, requires the player to launch into space and kill 20 enemy ships, thereby becoming a "Space Ace."
  • Jeff 'Joker' Moreau from Mass Effect, although the player is almost never exposed to his competition.
    • Notable in that his craft isn't a fighter like is common for the trope, but a 100+ meter frigate. And he still makes it do tricks that one would expect more from a fighter craft.
    • Mass Effect 3 adds shuttle pilot Steve Cortez, who claims the UT-47 kind of flies like a brick. Yet he still manages to win dogfights with Cerberus gunships flying one.
  • Tails from Sonic the Hedgehog.
  • Pretty much any named character from Tom Clancy's HAWX.
  • Airforce Delta Strike's entire cast of pilots by the end of the game.
  • In Company of Heroes, Tiger ace Hauptmann Josef Schultz is a clear expy of Michael Wittman. In a later expansion, the player can take charge of Schultz's tank to do battle with the British 7th Armoured Division in the real-life Battle of Villiers Bocage.
  • Becoming one is your goal in Red Baron. Along the way, you may encounter other historical aces from World War I, including the Red Baron himself.
  • The same goes for Il-2 Sturmovik. Most of the World War Two aces are featured in the game, mainly via their Ace Custom planes.
  • The Ravens and LYNX from the Armored Core series.
  • Solatorobo has Chocolat, a thirteen-year-old girl who can fly circles around the best of them with a chunky airship that's more of a flying home base than a fighter plane.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • Broch Landry from the comic Good Ship Chronicles is perhaps the greatest pilot alive, but also dangerously unstable and prone to snap necks at the slightest provocation.
  • Many of the characters in Angels2200 are the character type, if not specifically 5-enemy-pilots-killed aces.
  • The T-Girls of the Jet Dream Remix Comic. Harmony Thunder was (pre sex-change, as Jack Thunder) a literal Korean War ace.
  • The Hark! A Vagrant strip about Billy Bishop (see also Real Life, below).


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Swat Kats: T-Bone and Razor seem to favor a mix of Steamroller and Plugger styles. An example of an Ace with a back-seater - T-Bone's the pilot, Razor's the gunner/weapons officer.
  • Baloo from Tale Spin is a situational bushwhacker/plugger; in open sky, he bushwhacks like a mofo via ridiculous aerial acrobatics, in mountains and cities he plugs like a bastard through terrain manipulation, both supplemented by occasional usage of Abnormal Ammo - pretty much the only option available to him, as he takes on waves of fightercraft with a cargo plane.
  • Red Max, from Wacky Races, at least as an Informed Ability - his name is derived from the Red Baron and from Blue Max. By style, one can argue he's a bushwhacker.


Real Life[edit | hide]

Most of these are from the two World Wars, for obvious reasons. Some, however, are from the Arab-Israeli Conflict, the Korean War and The Vietnam War. We have yet to get an ace from the current century, as most current conflicts don't involve opposing air forces. And the few that do involve air combat have been Curb Stomp Battles, where the winning side massively outnumbers the loser, leaving far too few kills to go around for anybody to become an ace.

  • The most famous Real Life ace would be Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron, with 80 confirmed kills. He was killed in 1918. Considered a Worthy Opponent, the Allies gave him a full military funeral.
    • Richthofen was a real-life example of the Sniper/Bushwhacker. According to his wingmen, his flying skills were not vastly superior, and he considered his aircraft merely a means to bring his guns to bear. At that point he would deploy his real skills: superb marksmanship and a gift for selecting targets which were not aware of him. At least, not until bullet holes appeared on their planes...
  • A very notable earlier one, of whom Richthofen was a pupil, was Oswald Boelcke. Boelcke's biggest claim to fame is the Dicta Boelcke, the first manual of air-to-air combat and still relevant today.
  • Ditto for Max Immelman, who was a contemporary of Boelcke, was the first pilot to be awarded the Pour le Mérite, Germany's highest medal, (which was nicknamed the "Blue Max" in his honor during WWI) and was an inspiration to Richthofen. And having an aerobatic maneuver (in fact one of the basic ones) named after you doesn't hurt opinions, either.
  • The real life ace with the highest kill count was German Erich "Bubi" Hartmann, with 352 victories credited. He felt his biggest achievement was never losing a wingman.
    • Hartmann was the classic Bushwacker. He once described his own flying style as "Dive - Attack - Run Away - Coffee Break".
    • He also stated that only damage his plane ever suffered in air combat was from destroyed enemy planes' debris.
      • This was in large part because of his style of fighting: He would fly as close as possible before firing. He was known to have said "If you wait until the other plane fills the entire window of the cockpit, you don't waste a single round."
    • There is a theory that he was able to achieve such a killcount only due to amphetamines—which were invented by Germans specially for the military pilots—due to him being on the front only for a relatively short time, but having a very tight schedule. His logs show as many as eight sorties on a certain day. While each sortie in WWII rarely lasted longer than a couple of hours, those planes didn't really have "power steering", and air combat is one of the most tiring activities known to man. Two sorties per day was the par for the course, three were somewhat tiring, four were a chore, five a burden and six a nigh impossible. Eight sorties are widely considered achievable only by using stimulants.
      • Hartmann fought predominantly on the Eastern Front, and attributed his number of victories to the fact that he was often tasked with interception of air-to ground assault planes flown by novice pilots who were taught to stay in close formations and rarely if ever took evasive actions. See also the Japanese training philosophy explained below as Soviets shared this attitide.
  • Roald Dahl, better known as a bestselling author, was officially credited with 5 kills for England during World War II, but possibly scored more.
  • Hans-Ulrich Rudel, possibly the most deadly man in an aircraft. Responsible for destroying over 600 vehicles, along with sinking a battleship, two cruisers an four armored trains.
    • Not to mention taking on fighters in his Stuka - which was very poor at air-to-air combat - and winning. He is credited with shooting down nine enemy aircraft, being one of the few pilots to reach the criteria for being considered a fighter ace while flying a bomber. (This was admittedly helped by differing aircraft design theory; no such animal as a light bomber exists in modern aircraft.) He apparently provided design advice for the A-10 Thunderbolt II.
    • He got the Knight's Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, the only man who got that.
  • Hermann Göring, head of the Luftwaffe in Nazi Germany was an ace in World War I, with 22 victories.
  • René Paul Fonck, allied ace of aces in World War I. He claimed over 140 victories, and received credit for 75, falling just short of The Red Baron's 80. His 75 confirmed victories exceed the tallies of any allied WWII pilot, making him the all time allied ace of aces. He was a combo Sniper/Bushwhacker, known to stalk a target before taking it down with a single short machine gun burst. In his own words: "I put my bullets into the target as if I placed them there by hand."
  • The Soviet Union had the only real life female aces - Lidia Litvyak and Katya Budanova. Both were killed in action.
  • Ilmari Juutilainen, 94 kills, the top Finnish Air Force ace. Highest scoring ace outside the Luftwaffe. 2 kills on Fokker D.XXI, 36 kills on Brewster Buffalo and 56 kills on Messerschmitt 109G. The first two were highly obsolete when he flew them, and the Brewster Buffalo was never known to be a good airplane at all...though the Finns managed to make them work.
  • Douglas Bader. With two false legs. Badass is an understatement..
    • Alexei Maresyev (two stumps too) Died on the day of a big memorial service in his honour just for spite.
    • One British Hurricane pilot, James MacLachan made ace, then lost an arm to enemy fire. With a false arm, he did it again.
    • Pekka Kokko, Finnish Air Force ace with 12 kills. Lost a leg in air combat and considered to be unfit for combat. What did the Finnish Air Force do? They made him a test pilot!
  • There are many cases, mostly from World War II, of pilots making "ace in a day" (5 or more on a single sortie). That, for the Americans, usually meant a Medal of Honor. The recordholder was David McCampbell, a USN pilot at Leyte Gulf; nine confirmed and three probable kills in single sortie, a record that remains unequaled. He, however, was already an ace twice over.
    • His Wing Man, Lt. Roy Rushing, scored 7 victories during the same sortie.
    • One explanation of this comes from a subtle flaw in the Japanese training system: they used The Spartan Way to produce a small supply of excellent pilots while the Americans used Bigger Is Better to produce ten times as many good' pilots. The Americans also rotated their experienced pilots home to act as Obi-Wans to new pilots to give them the benefit of their experience while the Japanese pilots remained in combat to be killed off or become shell shocked seniors. Thus when the second crop of Japanese pilots came out after Midway they were almost totally untrained compared to their American adversaries, and there were very few skilled veterans still alive to mentor them.
    • Second highest scoring Finnish Air Force ace, Hans Wind (78 kills), scored "ace in a day" on five separate ocassions - and all within one month!
  • Randy "Duke" Cunningham was an American ace during The Vietnam War, being involved in some of the most known dogfights of that war. He was elected to Congress in 1991. In 2005, he was found guilty of corruption and is currently doing eight years in jail.
  • Michael Wittmann was a German World War II tank ace, known as "The Black Baron" (stop starin'). He got 138 tanks and 132 anti-tank guns, before being killed by the British Canadians either the British or the Canadians (it's disputed) in 1944.
  • Kurt Knispel, another German, holds the World War II record, with 168 confirmed tank kills.
  • Otto Carius, yet another German, who scored 202 vehicle kills (including some 60 softskins) on Tiger I, Tiger II and Jagdtiger. He was an pharmacist by his civilian profession. What did he do after WWII? Returned to home and set up a pharmacy store named Tiger-Apothek!
  • Eddie Rickenbacker was the American Ace of Aces (most kills) in World War I. His autobiography is one long string of Crowning Moment of Awesome, all told with a humble, "just the facts", style.
  • Richard Bong got that title for World War II, getting 40+ kills before it was decided (after a rival for the title of "ace of aces" was killed in action) to pull him from the front line. He went into flying test aircraft and died on 6 August 1945. The following day, he shared some front pages with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
  • Otto Kretschmer was a German WWII U-boat ace who sank 47 ships for a total of 274,333 tons before being captured by the British in March 1941 in an engagement that led to the death of Joachim Schepke, another ace. This was the most tonnage sunk by any U-Boat commander even though Kretchmer missed out on a significant portion of the Battle of the Atlantic. He survived the war.
  • Billy Bishop, was the top Ace for the entire British Empire in World War I. Started out as a Steamroller, then changed to a Bushwacker, which he found to be more effective. The Red Baron considered him the most skilled opponent he ever faced and the Germans called him the Hell's Handmaiden for his lethal effectiveness.
  • Chuck Yeager - who was also the first man to break the sound barrier. Before he did that, his claim to fame was being the first man to shoot down a jet. He also scored two of his 11.5 official kills (he actually scored at least one more) by maneuvering two German pilots into a collision. Appropriately enough, his name is an Anglicized version of the German Jaeger ("Hunter"). As far as his style, he was a "steamroller" and a "sniper"; he could and did mix it up with the best of them, but also had almost superhuman eyesight that allowed him to hit at longer range with machine guns than most pilots could with cannons. The latter skill was how he took down a jet in his prop-driven P-51.
  • James Jabara, the first man to become a "jet ace", getting a total of fifteen kills in the Korean War to add to his one-and-a-half from World War II. Numbers five and six, of two MiG-15s were done with one drop tank stuck on his aircraft. He signed up for a tour in Vietnam in 1966, but was killed in a car crash before deploying.
  • Saburo Sakai, the highest-scoring surviving ace of the Japanese Navy, had a career filled with Crowning Moments of Awesome. One was his 800-mile flight, in a damaged plane, a bullet hole through his head, which blinded one eye and paralyzed half of his body. Another was surviving a dogfight with sixteen American planes, better than his own, without a single bullet in his aircraft. And a third was the time a terrified enemy pilot bailed out before Sakai had even fired a shot.
    • During that famed flight of survival, he was near to passing out several times, so he took to intentionally aggravating the pain in his wounds to jolt himself wider awake.
    • After the war, Sakai became a devout pacifist, swearing that he would never kill anything again, not even an insect.
  • Günther Prien, another U-Boat ace, who was killed in 1941 attacking a convoy a week before Kretschmer's capture. Before that in 1939, he managed to get publicly praised by Winston Churchill after sneaking into the Royal Navy base at Scapa Flow, sinking a battleship and getting back out before the British worked out what was going on.
    • His closest counterpart in Royal Navy would have been Lieutenant Max Horton, who navigated his submarine to Constantinople harbour to sink a Ottoman Turkish battleship anchored there in WWI. He had been promoted to Admiral in WWII.
  • Though it's not often remembered in the West (due to certain political disagreements in the intervening time) the highest-scoring Allied ace of World War II was in fact the Russian Ivan Kozhedub with 62 kills.
    • It's widely believed that he and the second best Allied ace of WWII, Alexander Pokryshkin (59 kills), have much higher real kill counts due to the way Soviet scoring system worked. Soviet pilots, ironically for a socialist country, received significant money bonuses for their victories, so to fight overclaiming and thus overspending, the confirmation rules were intentionally very strict, requiring, for example, the confirmation by the ground team, which automatically excluded any kills made behind the enemy lines, even if witnessed by other pilots. Pokryshkin also reportedly had many of his early kills not registered due to his bad relations with his superior officer.
      • Pokryshkin also had the habit of "giving out" his victories to his wingmen and other younger pilots in his regiment in later years of WWII, as attested in their memoirs. It's thought that his real kill count is somewhere in the vicinity of ~120 victories.
      • In Soviet times there was a (officially suppressed, as the party line was that Soviet advisors didn't actually take part in combat) rumor that Kozhedub, despite the official orders to the contrary, actually flew combat missions in the Korean War, where he was a military advisor, and had another five victories there, becoming one of the very few two-war aces. It couldn't really be confirmed, though.
  • Giora Epstein. With a meager (compared to WWII aces) 17 confirmed kills holds the record for shot down jet planes and is the top ranking post-WWII ace.
    • There is an old story about Giora being a part of the group escorting a certain United States senator / former fighter pilot around Israel. After a tour of the IAF museum the senator spent some time describing every single one of his 5 confirmed kills in detail before asking Giora himself whether he had anything to boast.
  • John Thach is more a thinking ace pilot as a tactician who in World War II invented The Thach Weave which allowed US pilots to fight the technically superior Japanese Zeroes, even frustrating Saburo Sakai, and later the Big Blue Blanket that was an effective defense against the feared Kamikaze suicide attacks.
  • Frank G. Tallman, the legendary Hollywood stunt pilot. He may have never flown in combat but no one can deny that he was one of the greatest ace pilots who ever lived. Amongst other things he flew a Beechcraft 18 through a steel framed billboard at 200 MPH with less than 24 inches of clearance for It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and landed a Standard J1 biplane on two-inch caster wheels for The Great Waldo Pepper. Tallman did things with real airplanes that no one would dare do outside of CGI nowadays and his book Flying The Old Planes is considered a classic of aviation literature.
    • Ironically, he died in a preventable accident, flying at low altitude in bad weather.
  • Robin Olds wins the award for professional longevity first gaining 12 victories in World War 2 flying P-38s and P-51's in the European Theatre and then 20 years later he downed an additional 4 Mi G's over Vietnam flying the F-4 Phantom. He retired in 1972 as a Badass General and during his Vietnam years he was known for an extravagantly waxed (and decidedly non-regulation) handlebar mustache.
    • Indeed, to this day, American airmen honor General Olds' epic badassery by growing mustaches during Mustache March. Also, he has an entire fighter wing named in his honor: The 8th Fighter Wing, aka "The Wolfpack", from a Rousing Speech he gave before the battle where the wing, under his command, ambushed a dozen of the NVAF's newest MiG-21s and shot down seven of them... nearly half of North Vietnam's entire inventory of the advanced fighters. With no American casualties.
    • Olds is on the record that once he scored his 4th kill in Vietnam, he deliberately avoided taking a 5th MiG because he was informed they'd drag him out of combat and put him on publicity tours once he became a two-war ace. He also missed out on the Korean War despite constant lobbying for a transfer to a combat squadron (any combat squadron). So if things had gone a little differently, it's very possible that Olds could have become the only three-war ace.
  • Nguyen Van Coc, highest scoring ace of the Vietnam War. There were sixteen Vietnamese aces and two American ones.
  • Before the production of You Only Live Twice, the James Bond producers, as well as the film's director and some crew members visited Japan to scout for locations. Director Lewis Gilbert got terrified when the helicopter pilot said "Me kamikaze pilot!". But the man's flying was good enough for him to be hired by the film's production. And when two helicopters had a small on-air collision (which severed the foot of a cameraman), the kamikaze managed to land the damaged chopper on a really irregular terrain! (the film also features a lesser example in K.H. Wallis, the inventor of Little Nellie who did some truly risky landing-takeoffs piloting it)
  • Richard Candelaria, an American World War Two pilot who happened to fly a P-51D Mustang on April 7, 1945. He gets separated from his squadron and forms up on the bombers they were to be escorting ahead of the rest of his squadron just in time to fight off 15 Luftwaffe in Me 109 fighters, including one German Ace Pilot, and two more in Me 262 jet fighters alone. This man defeated the jets, possibly shooting down one, shot down the Ace Pilot in a one-on-one dogfight, and took out three other planes before the rest of his squadron arrived on scene, at which point the rest of the Germans bugged out. And you, too, can witness his feat thanks to modern science and an interview with the man himself. [1] His tale starts at 8:00 and continues into part 4 and 5. Hey! American Ace Pilots do exist!
    • Which sounds very like the final mission of the first person shooter Blazing Angels, suggesting they took his tale and made it into an awesome video game. Take that Biggles! (coming from a Brit).
  • Louis E. Curdes was the only pilot to shoot down planes from FOUR powers in World War II. In the Mediterranean, he shot down seven German planes and one Italian plane before being shot down and taken prisoner. He escaped and evaded capture for eight months before making it to Allied lines. He was later transferred to the Pacific where he shot down a Japanese plane ( One of only three pilots to shoot down planes from all three Axis powers. ). THEN he shot down an American plane which was about to land in Japanese territory, forcing it to ditch. He is the only American pilot to earn a medal for shooting down an American plane. To top it off, his future wife was on that plane. [2]
    • Saburo Sakai and probably a few other Japanese pilots shot down planes from four different powers—Chinese, British, Dutch and American.
  • Hans-Joachim Marseille, while not exactly the most famous German ace of World War II, was pretty much exactly what you'd expect an ace pilot to be - a total womanizer and party guy with not much respect for authority, he was transfered to the North African theater in order to get him away from French women. While in the Battle of Britain he had not been notably successful, in North Africa he became virtually unstoppable. He would charge his plane straight into large British formations, then use high deflection shots to shoot the cockpit of his foes (at such an angle, you can't even see the plane your shooting at due to the engine). He racked up 158 confirmed kills, which all were against Western Allies and all but seven were against English pilots. On 1 September 1942 he shot down 17 enemy fighters. Erich Hartmann said that he thought Marseille was the best shot of any fighter pilot. He was killed when he tried to bail out of his Bf 109G after the engine failed and he hit the vertical stabilizer.
  • Francis "Gabby" Gabreski scored 28 kills in World War II and another 6.5 in Korea, putting him half a kill short of being a septuple ace and making of one of the few two-war aces. He was famous (or infamous) for a flying style that was aggressive to the point of recklessness, often ripping into enemy formations before his wingmen had any chance to join the fight. His hyper-aggressive style made him controversial among his various wingmen; some thought he didn't care about fighting as a team and only wanted more kills for himself, while others loved the way he flew and tried to emulate his fast, hard-hitting tactics.
    • This recklessness very nearly killed him on his final mission of World War II, a flight that wasn't even supposed to happen. He was scheduled to be flown home after having flown the standard maximum number of combat hours, but managed to convince somebody to let him fly "one more mission" escorting bombers into Germany. During a strafing run, he flew too low and clipped his propeller, and after he crashed he spent the rest of the war in a Nazi POW camp.
  • While they don't shoot anyone down or engage in dogfights, bush pilots are by the definition of their job often required to be crazy-skilled aviators. Operating in harsh environments like the Australian Outback and the Canadian wilderness, a single pilot can be expected to do anything from shipping cargo, transporting people and acting as a flying ambulance. They have a reputation on the whole as being slightly touched in the head but great pilots who you can count on to have your back. Famous examples include Clennell "Punch" Dickens Rusty Blakey and the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia.
  1. In an Aries when the enemies are Gundams, in a Taurus when everyone else around her are in Gundams or brand-new-generations-ahead-mobile-suits
  2. Beyond her first apperance, anyhow