Pete “Maverick” Mitchell
If the name doesn’t automatically imbue your brain with visuals of 80’s jumpsuits and the sound of Kenny Loggins, than maybe you haven’t seen the beloved air combat blockbuster Top Gun. This Oscar winning wonder of brotherly alliances and high stakes flying swept audiences off their feet back in 1986 and instantly created an entire generation of wannabe pilots. Tom Cruise is the man in the cockpit in this case who sent his career skyrocketing as the protagonist here. This film has such a devoted fan base that it is still viable today which is why 2020 is set to be the year Top Gun returns as Cruise reprises his role 30-some years later.
The bold and brave pilot Hal Jordan was known around the universe for his fearless nature which is why when a cosmic ring of power sought a new owner it chose him. This comic book character from the early days of four colour heroes is still active today, and although he doesn’t sit inside a plane much anymore, thanks to being bestowed the ability of flight, he does use aircraft paraphernalia often. As he conjures up objects from his mind to fight of aliens and dimensional villains, he often picks from his piloting knowledge bank to draw bombs, machine guns and literally throw planes at enemies.
Though what he flies is technically a spaceship, the hero of Nintendo’s Starfox titles is clearly in something that isn’t far from a jet plane. As players take control over his craft, they shoot down robot drones, meteors and other rival craft in crazy dogfights. Fox and his team are some of the best pilots around and are often called upon to protect the planets of the solar system, just as his late father did before him. As you master the skills required to become a legendary flyer, just don’t forget to do a barrel roll, or else.
Whether you grew up in the 1980s or are reading this as a young kid today, you should be familiar with one of Disney animations most beloved TV shows – Ducktales. The family focused stories of an incredibly rich uncle (Scrooge McDuck) and his loveable nephews are well remembered by their theme tune. However, a recurring character in these plots is the hapless, musclebound pilot Launchpad McQuack. Given more of a spotlight in the recent 2017 reboot of the show launchpad gets in the driving seat of the huge clunky Sunchaser aeroplane and takes the ducks off on adventures. His fearless piloting makes him worthy of a top spot as he reminds us “If it has wings, I can crash it”.
Returning to the silver screen, few people have evaded as much oncoming danger and escaped as many laser attacks than the cocky, waist coated Han Solo. Brought to life by Harrison Ford in the first Star Wars title back in 1987, Solo has gone on to steal the hearts of Princesses, Wookies and fans all around the world. Now with several films and a Solo one of his own, this smart talking danger diving pilot never ceases to excite audiences.