Friday Open Thread
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Who is the worst star pilot in the history of Science fiction?
In theory, any landing you walk away from is a good one.
And I guarantee you there is no crew chief in the existence of all time and space who would agree with that.
In truth star pilots have it kind of tough. They appear to get less training than a kamikaze and their ships were seemingly built by the 1970s United Auto Workers on a Monday.
Almost any of them that takes the stick has one wreck on his record. The great Luke Skywalker had two (on-screen anyway). Even his old man, “the best star pilot in the galaxy” had one.
Clearly and obviously some kind of filter needed to be applied. I decided to adopt the John McCain standard. There needed to be at least three crashes to make the list.
Unfortunately, that whittled things down a little too much. I was left with only three pilots, too few to make an article.
But here are the meager results.
Alan Carter (Space 1999)
This blonde Australian stick jock had 4 crashes where he was the pilot in command. Although he had 2 more as co-pilot but I didn’t count those because they rightfully belong to the all-star champion worst pilot on this list. The odd thing about Carter was that you always had the feeling he would have preferred to have been flying drunk. And that maybe if he had still had a steady supply of Fosters available he wouldn’t have landed on this list at all.
Lt Starbuck (OG Battlestar Galactica)
Starbuck’s completely undeserved self-adulation makes his number two slot on this list particularly stinging. Alpha males define themselves by their high status and are constantly sniffing the wind for any threat to that status. But that usually means they are good at the thing they pin their status to. Starbuck lived in an ironclad delusion bubble, one that proved completely impenetrable to the ravages of reality. His sky-high opinion of his talent remained undented no matter how much wreckage he left in his wake. His final crash ended his career as a pilot, not by death or injury but by the fact that he was out of range of pickup. He appears to have ended his days alone on a desert planet. Unable to crash any more ships, he is locked in at number two.*
Which brings us to our number one.
The winner of the worst pilot in the history of science fiction is…
Cmdr John Koenig (Space 1999)
Bane of crew chiefs and mishap investigators alike, John Koenig’s career of carnage started out strong, auguring in the very first time we see him get behind the stick. You remember that thing about any crash you walk away from being a good one? He frequently didn’t. He would crash, die, get resurrected, and come back for more his commands precious few remaining Eagles. They only had 29 when they got blasted out of orbit, to begin with. There were only 11 left when the show got canceled. The only reason he kept getting cleared to fly despite what must have been a crippling vestibular problem is that he was banging the base’s chief medical officer.
John Koenig, ladies, and gentlemen. The worst pilot in science fiction.
*Truth be said, death by isolation dementia is a pretty rough way to clock out. And I will grant that this was the ONLY good episode of Galactica 1980.