Sometimes the term is used more casually to mean any hotshot pilot, be they military or civilian, including commercial pilots and Stunt Pilots as well as fighter pilots and bomber pilots, even helicopter pilots. In the Savage Worlds RPG "Ace Pilot" is used to mean you can fly anything.
Combat Roles and Pilot Types
Real Life Ace Pilots
- Douglas Bader
- Billy Bishop
- Oswald Boelcke
- Richard Bong
- Katya Budanova
- Randy "Duke" Cunningham
- Roald Dahl
- Benjamin O. Davis
- Erich "Bubi" Hartmann
- Max Immelman
- James Jabara
- Lidia Litvyak
- James MacLachan
- Alexei Maresyev
- David Mc Campbell
- Eddie Rickenbacker
- Hans-Ulrich Rudel
- Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron
- Chuck Yeager
Ace Non-Flying "Pilots"
Game and Story Use
- Old military wisdom says that in time of war there are only two types of pilots - Aces, and those who got shot down on their first mission. I think that means that most of the NPCs are Mooks.
- …although that ignores all those pilots whose job doesn't involve shooting at enemy aircraft.
- Actually, that makes for a really good subversion - an "ace" pilot with no credited kills because he drove a bomber, ground co-operation craft, reconnaissance bird or even a casevac. Or was a stunt pilot - look, for example at Hogan Washburne from Firefly - allegedly military trained but apparently never in combat. We presume that more backstory would have emerged later, but some theories suggest he was in an aerobatic display team and never got sent to the front.
- Ace Pilots make good Player Characters.
Building This Character
- At least mid-level, since you've downed several enemies and lived to tell the tale.
- Figure out which attribute affects piloting the most, and max it out. That'll usually be Agility or some Mental Attribute. If it's not crystal clear which one is used, ask your GM - you'd hate to find out later that he or she interprets the rules very differently than you do.
- In general, your Physical Attributes shouldn't have any major weaknesses. You need to be healthy enough to qualify for military training, not to mention being able to pull out of a high-G dive.
- Piloting - take it as high as the rules will allow. See also Barnstorming, Stunt Flying, Aerial Maneuvers, and Improbable Piloting Skills. In some games this is further divided into different types of piloting, in others, it's all rolled into one big vehicle skill.
- Awareness is a big one that all Ace Pilots must have. If you don't even know you're in danger, you're gonna get shot down.
- Gunnery or Heavy Weapons for taking down enemy pilots. Bombardier for dropping payloads. These skills are far less important than piloting and awareness, however.
- Cartography, Navigation, or at least experience in reading maps is going to be helpful.
- Sanity, Willpower, and Stamina for those long solitary flights, punctuated by brief moments of energetic hell.
- Survival - because any landing you can walk away from…
- Starfighter pilots and starship captains, or anyone with a spacecraft will need a few more things.
- Astronomy or Astrophysics in general, with a specialty in Astrogation. Math and Science skills become even more important.
- Whatever skill is used to angle, modulate, or maintain your forcefield or deflectors.
- Repair is a must, because on long voyages into space, you are the only help you can expect. Space is big and empty. Don't want Life Support going out.
- See also Stardrive. They type of engine / spaceship / technology you have access to may require additional skills.
- Zero-Gee Movement or Acrobatics.