Anakin's piloting skills as seen throughout the Saga

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by YodaJeff, Feb 3, 2003.

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  1. YodaJeff Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 18, 2001
    star 7
    "I'm a pilot, you know, and someday I'm gonna fly away from this place."
    - Anakin Skywalker, The Phantom Menace

    "He was the best starpilot in the galaxy."
    - Obi-Wan Kenobi, A New Hope

    "When I first knew him, your father was already a great pilot."
    - Obi-Wan Kenobi, Return of the Jedi

    I've seen this issue discussed before, both in the TPM and AOTC forums. However, those discussions tend to focus on (the lack of) Anakin's "piloting" skills in the prequels, and often degenerate into basher/gusher wars. I figured the Saga forum would be the perfect place to discuss his piloting skills (or lack there of) as seen in the entire Saga.

    Yes, I realize that we haven't seen Episode 3 yet, and that could easily change some of our perspective. However, I think we've seen enough in the other 5 films to at least start discussing this topic.

    The first time that Anakin Skywalker is portrayed as a pilot is in The Phantom Menace, when he says, "I'm a pilot, you know, and someday I'm gonna fly away from this place." While it doesn't tell us much about his piloting, it establishes to the viewer that Anakin is a pilot. Later, in The Phantom Menace, we see Anakin's piloting skills during the podrace. Some would argue that podracing isn't "piloting", but since we did see 3 dimensions of movement (albeit limited), and because it involves steering a vehicle that doesn't come in contact with the ground, I would consider it piloting. Since no human had ever won a podrace before, let alone a 9 year old human, I would consider that alone "great piloting".

    Next, in the Queen's starship, we get a glimpse of Anakin discussing some of the piloting instruments with Ric Olie. Ric even says "You catch on quick," showing that Anakin either had prior experience with the basic piloting instruments, or that he was, in fact, a quick learner.

    Finally, in The Phantom Menace, we see Anakin "get behind the wheel" of a Naboo Fighter. Sure, it's on autopilot at first, and his techniques aren't the best. However, the fact that he was able to even figure out some of the controls as a 9 year old child is amazing. Even if blowing up the Trade Federation droid control ship was a fluke, the fact that he was able to control the starship as much as he did shows "great" piloting skills, at least for someone who is 9 years old.

    I'm sure that Anakin went on to tell Obi-Wan all about his podracing adventures, and, similar to many children, he probably exaggerated that tale, along with the story about how he blew up the Trade Fedaration control ship. Remember, the only other "main" characters who saw the Podrace were Shmi, Qui-Gon, Padme, and Jar Jar. Obi-Wan never met Shmi, Qui-Gon died shortly after that, and Obi-Wan went 10 years without seeing Padme and Jar Jar again. Therefore, the only recollection of the podrace that Obi-Wan hears is probably from Anakin himself.

    Next, we see Anakin in Attack of the Clones. The first time we see Anakin's "piloting" skills in Attack of the Clones is during the Coruscant speeder chase. To me, this is definately "piloting", as it definately is three-dimensional. Anakin flies through the sky, doing some daring moves in order to try to keep up with Zam.

    Also, in Attack of the Clones, we see Anakin piloting a starship from Naboo to Tatooine, and from Tatooine to Geonosis. While we don't see much of Anakin's piloting skills, he seemed to make it without any major problems. This by itself isn't enough to prove that he was the "greatest starpilot", but it can prove that he was at least a "good starpilot".

    Finally, to the original trilogy. If I recall correctly, we only saw Anakin/Vader's piloting skills once, in A New Hope, when he was flying around in his personal TIE. He managed to do something that few TIE fighter pilots were able to do... survive.

    Is there enough evidence here to prove Obi-Wan's statements about Anakin being a "great pilot" when they met, and to prove that, at one time, Anakin was "the best starpilot in the galaxy"? Are there any references to Anak
  2. merlin Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 29, 1999
    star 4
    [color=663300]Anakin being the "only human" who can pilot a Pod Racer shows his incredible piloting skills. I hope that we get to see some GOOD space piloting by Anakin in EP3 but I assume that in the ten years Obi has been training Anakin, he's seen some great piloting. Enough to call him the best pilot in the galaxy. [/color]
  3. Shara_82 Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jan 10, 2001
    star 5
    merlin has a point with that - actually being able to fly a podracer certainly shows something about Anakin's skills as a pilot, and is an indication that he's a lot better than normal.

    I also think that there would have been plenty of opportunities in the 10 years between TPM and AotC for Anakin to demonstrate his piloting skills - Obi-Wan could easily have seen numerous demonstrations of his piloting skills in between then.
  4. AmazingB Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jan 12, 2001
    star 7
    Is there enough evidence here to prove Obi-Wan's statements about Anakin being a "great pilot" when they met

    When they met, the only real indication was the podracing, and Obi-Wan wasn't there for that. So to that part, I'd say no.


    and to prove that, at one time, Anakin was "the best starpilot in the galaxy"?

    Based on the chase scene at the beginning of AotC, I'd say there'd been a great many times when Anakin had proved to Obi-Wan how good he was during the 10 years between TPM and AotC. And that scene further solidifies things for the audience. As such, I'd say he's a great pilot at that point, but hardly the best in the galaxy (at least as far as we've scene). Hopefully we'll get more in Episode III.

    Are there any references to Anakin as a pilot that I missed?

    The only thing I could possibly think of is the Death Star attack in ANH, and he does shoot down more than a few Rebels, but nothing overly spectacular.

    Amazing.
  5. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2001
    star 6
    As to Ben's comments in the OT regarding the PT timeframe, I'm really of the opinion he had a skewed view of those years, and you really can't take what he says at face value. Anakin obviously has talent as a pilot, though. I believe the best example of this is in ANH.
  6. dehrian Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 1999
    star 6
    Personally, I don't think we can take anything Ben said about Anakin in ANH at face value. He was trying to build Anakin up in Luke's eyes, and then said, "Oh, hey, have a lightsaber." He wanted Luke to become a Jedi, and knew that if he built Anakin up in Luke's eyes, made him sound like a great pilot and Jedi, everything that Luke wanted to be, it would only encourage Luke to do what Ben wanted him to.

    So I take everything Ben said in ANH, particularly in that conversation, with a large grain of salt.
  7. merlin Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 29, 1999
    star 4
    [color=663300]I take what Ben says to Luke in ANH as truth. He's talking about Anakin. What he knew of Anakin. Maybe he fibbed a little when he said that Anakin wanted Luke to have his lightsaber, but otherwise I think he's telling him the truth. [/color]
  8. General Kenobi Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 1998
    star 6
    When they met, the only real indication was the podracing, and Obi-Wan wasn't there for that. So to that part, I'd say no.

    So by this logic, then I can't tell my grandson that Jeff Gordon was a great driver because I've never been to a NASCAR race. Can't I take someone else's opinion and convey it with some truthfulness?

    No sarcasm intended here. I just think that people who keep doubting the demonstration of Anakin's piloting skills are being a bit too literal. I just take at face value that he has great piloting skills, which I think can be demonstrated somewhat by pod-racing.

    Was he really a great pilot in TPM and was he ever the best star pilot in the galaxy? Maybe, maybe not. It's just Obi-Wan's opinion. Now, of course, you can head off to debate his reliability as a source for info in ANH...
  9. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2001
    star 6
    I take what Ben says to Luke in ANH as truth.

    Oh, everything Ben said was true..... from a certain point of view. ;)
  10. AmazingB Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jan 12, 2001
    star 7
    So by this logic, then I can't tell my grandson that Jeff Gordon was a great driver because I've never been to a NASCAR race. Can't I take someone else's opinion and convey it with some truthfulness?

    I'm not saying you can't, but I'd be far less-inclined to believe someone who didn't see Jeff Gordon than someone who did. I never saw Babe Ruth play baseball, outside of some really old film. But I can say, without the slightest bit of uncertainty, that he was the best player of all time, because everything he ever accomplished is written down in easy-to-read numbers. All Obi-Wan has is the story of Anakin's podracing. He didn't see any of the moves Anakin used, he didn't see Anakin's comeback from a miserable start and Sebulba's sabotage. All he has is a story to go on, and stories tend to become more and more embellished with each telling, especially stories of such success. And in your Jeff Gordon example, his skill is widely reported. This is getting into some sort of bizarre Star Wars hypothetical, but how widely reported would a podrace on a backwards planet be?

    No sarcasm intended here. I just think that people who keep doubting the demonstration of Anakin's piloting skills are being a bit too literal. I just take at face value that he has great piloting skills, which I think can be demonstrated somewhat by pod-racing.

    I agree to an extent, but a single podrace shouldn't be enough to deem him a great pilot, especially since it was the first time he even finished a podrace. Anyone can get lucky once.

    Amazing.
  11. dArTh_wenley Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 10, 2001
    star 5

    Just have a look at how confidentally Anakin gets into the speeder in the AOTC Coruscant and does a variety of risky moves with ease. It is apparent that Anakin is not only a competant pilot but a pilot that isn't afraid to do things.

    I for one would not in my right mind fly through those electricity beams!

    There is no doubt in mind that Anakin does not possess the skills of an expert pilot. It is just a shame we haven't been able to see the full scope of his abilities as of yet.
  12. General Kenobi Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 1998
    star 6
    Well, I'm satisfied that he was a great pilot, and at some point in his life he was "the best star pilot in the galaxy". Combine the skills we have seen with the fact that he is (perhaps) the most powerful Jedi at some point, and I'll accept that. And perhaps Obi-Wan is passing on to Luke a widely-known reputation that Anakin had.

    I wonder what GL would have to explicitly show in Ep. III to convince the doubters. A kill count in the Clone Wars far above any other pilot (statistical evidence)? One fantastically incredible sequence with Anakin piloting a Jedi Starfighter (or even a Sith/TIE fighter)? Through an asteroid field even better than Han with the Falcon? Single-handedly defeating a few enemy squadrons?

    Don't get me wrong. I would probably love any explicit demonstration of his skill. I just believe already.
  13. dp4m Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2001
    star 9
    As an EU example of "where the EU starts to go wrong" at times is a specific example only confined to the new Wizards of the Coast RPG system.

    In the gaming system, characters can only be "so high" in a particular skill -- in this case their "level" plus three. So the problem with that, naturally, is that as of Attack of the Clones, since Obi-Wan is way more experienced than Anakin (i.e. a "higher level") their piloting ability (skill) is equal.

    Which to me, quick frankly, is bulldinkies.

    Anakin focuses on his piloting abilities at least as much as his Force abilities and thus is a great pilot for someone of his age and experience. Obi-Wan, while likely competant, shouldn't be at that level of skill. Or am I looking at this backwards and should be thinking it makes sense because Obi-Wan ISN'T as skilled as he could be...
  14. dArTh_wenley Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 10, 2001
    star 5

    Obi-Wan suffers from the fact that he isn't particulary fond of flight, even though he performed fairly well in the Meteor chase.

    Perhaps Obi-Wan could have had the potential to be a really skilled pilot, however, he wasn't very interested in this area.

    But I'm getting off topic. :p
  15. YodaJeff Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 18, 2001
    star 7
    It looks like the Official Site's "Ask the Lucasfilm Jedi Council" section mentioned this a couple days ago, here
  16. Darth Dark Helmet Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 27, 1999
    star 6
    I think we've seen enough evidence in the first two movies to give Anakin the label of a "great" pilot. I also think we'll get even more concrete evidence in EpIII. As each movie goes on, what we are shown for him as a pilot increases. In TPM, the Pod Race, then in AOTC, we move up to the Speeder Chase, and I think in EpIII we'll see him move up to a Starfighter of some kind and perform in battle.
  17. DarthAttorney Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2000
    star 6
    We shouldn't forget Vader's trench run in ANH either. I doubt we'd see any Imperial commanders rushing to their starfighters in a similar situation.

    He certainly seemed confident that he could handle the situation ship to ship and considering that only 3 of the 15 (it was only a squad of X-Wings and 3 Y-Wings right? ?[face_plain] ) left the battle, he didn't do too badly. ;)
  18. WellKnownCharacter Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2002
    star 2
    Anakin WAS the best starpilot in the galaxy...

    ...From a certain point of view.
  19. NiktosRule Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 8, 2001
    star 4
    I think Anakin is the best pilot in the galaxy. Winning the podrace at 9 years old with all the cheating Sebulba did was very impressive. Just being able to pilot the Naboo starfighter at 9 in a battle and surviving is damn impressive. His speeder piloting was also very impressive. He was piloting the speeder with ease.

    I think we will see one more great display of piloting in Ep. 3 to fully justify what Obi-Wan said. I'm pretty much already sold though.
  20. Jedi_Suzuran Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 22, 2002
    star 5
    Yes, he is.

    The only human who could podrace, and a child at that, his ability to stay alive in a chaotic space battle, even after his starfighter was off auto-pilot, the Coruscant chase sequence, and the ANH trench run.

    The evidence is there. He is a great pilot. :)
  21. ObidioJuan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2002
    star 3
    In AOTC in the Speeder chase, OB1 mentions that he hates when Anakin flyies like that (or something to that effect) and Anakin repplies "Sorry Master, I forgot you don't like flying", then Ob1 says that it's not flying just what Anakin's does (sorry I can't remember the exact words).

    At any rate, my point is that by this time (*10 years together), OB1 has witnessed Anakin's flying skills first hand many times, he also trusts him enough to keep flying.

    Podracing is a hot sport even in Coruscant, as shown in the sports bar scene. So OB1 would have been at least somewhat impressed by Anakin winning a podrace at the age of 9 when no human (no matter what age) wasn't able to do it at all.
  22. Darth_Banal Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 22, 2002
    star 6
    Perhaps Anakin is the greatest star-pilot Obi-Wan has seen, not necessarily the galaxy's best. :confused:

    In AOTC in the Speeder chase, OB1 mentions that he hates when Anakin flyies like that (or something to that effect) and Anakin repplies "Sorry Master, I forgot you don't like flying", then Ob1 says that it's not flying just what Anakin's does (sorry I can't remember the exact words).

    From that scene, I think we can deduce Anakin's piloting skills are quite amazing. Anakin knows excatly when to pull up, duck and dodge, and how to maneuver (all traits of a good racer). He has complete control of his vehicle, while Obi-Wan as a pilot is very good, but takes the safest path possible. If I remember right, Anakin even laughs when going into the dive on Coruscant, knowing Obi-Wan will get uneasy. While Obi-Wan says "..what you're doing is suicide!", he knows Anakin's depth perception and sense of space are razor sharp.

    But I will think we will see or at least hear more evidence of Anakin being a great pilot in E3.
  23. rhonderoo Former Head Admin

    Member Since:
    Aug 7, 2002
    star 9
    Finally, to the original trilogy. If I recall correctly, we only saw Anakin/Vader's piloting skills once, in A New Hope, when he was flying around in his personal TIE. He managed to do something that few TIE fighter pilots were able to do... survive.

    To me, this alone is proof. As was said before, Vader is the only Imperial officer running out to his own ship, AND he made it back. Combine this with the podrace and the speeder chase and I don't need any more evidence. (Although it would be nice to see in EPIII) :)
  24. D_Lowe Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 15, 2002
    star 6
    I do expect Anakin to fly a space battle in the last battle of the Clone Wars. Obi-Wan called Anakin the best "star" pilot in the galaxy in ANH. We have yet seem him impress us with star piloting skills yet as Anakin. So don't be surprised Anakin has his Jedi starship and kicks some major behind in Episode III.
  25. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper

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    May 25, 2000
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    Something to think about in regards to the Coruscant chase: not only did Anakin display formidable piloting skills while manuevering through the cityscape, but at the same time he was able to spare enough conentration to use the Force to foresee exactly where Zam would end up. He was able to foresee this so accurately that he was able to precisely time his free-fall of what looked like several hundred meters, all the while being lectured by his Master [face_shocked]
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