In a recent edition of Star Trek Magazine there was a very interesting article on who was Star Trek’s Top Gun.
Since the early days of Trek it has always been Hikaru Sulu who was noted as being the best helmsman in Starfleet and the article gives many, many examples of why that is the case.
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m a big fan of Sulu and would agree he was the best pilot of his time but I would disagree that he is the best ever. Other notable mentions in the article go to Captain Picard, Nog, Tom Paris, Jadzia Dax and a few others.
For me though the choice is simple:- there are two pilots who I would consider the best not only in their own era but overall and they are Ensign Travis Mayweather and Lt. Keyla Detmer.
“Why?”, I hear you scream. Its fairly simple really, for me at least. Apart from the odd episode here and there, everything from Enterprise onward had computers aiding the helmsman. However, as the show moved on to more futuristic times, the more help the computer provided in piloting. We very rarely saw anyone take full manual control using an old-fashioned joystick/hand-controls. In Enterprise we saw it many times especially with Mayweather and Shuttlepods. In Discovery, Detmer proved herself by carrying out a donut maneuver to help pull a radioactive meteor out of hitting a planet. Then, after jumping 930 years into the future, Detmer had to adapt to the new programmable matter interface as well as piloting Book’s ship using full manual controls which helped regain her confidence.
This is by no means an exhaustive list and I’m aware that others have on occasion taken control (Picard in Booby Trap if memory serves) but it seems that Mayweather and Detmer have had more success than others with manual piloting and that’s why they are my choice for Starfleet’s Top Gun!
An honourable mention should also go to Wil Riker for flying the Big-E using the manual flight column in Star Trek Insurrection and creating the Riker Maneuver.
That’s not to say I wouldn’t want to see a Short Trek with an elderly Grandpa Hikaru Sulu, sat with his daughter Demora, telling his grandkids how he taught Demora to fly….