With the newly-announced Star Wars Squadrons space combat game blasting into hangars this fall and Shadow Fall, the hotly-anticipated sequel to Alexander Freed’s 2019 bestselling novel Alphabet Squadron, having just landed on bookstore shelves last week, Star Wars fans have fighter jockeys on the brain more than a young Luke Skywalker dreaming of the stars. From the Death Star trench run to the heroics over Exegol, these daring aces have thrilled us for generations. But for every Luke Skywalker and Poe Dameron, there are a thousand lesser-known heroes strapping into X-wings to take on the dark side. Here are some of our favorites from the very farthest reaches of a galaxy far, far away.
The second most famous Red Five of the original trilogy, we barely get enough time with this guy in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi to give him enough time to yell, “She’s gonna blow!” After growing up poor on Devaron among xenophobic Devaronians, he distinguishes himself among the pilots of the Rebellion despite his nihilistic cynicism. A glimmer of his idealism returns, however, when he got the chance to fly with Red Squadron at the battle over Endor that would be his last. Although Frix’s story itself is heroic and compelling, what really makes him interesting is how it came to be.
In the mid-2000s, StarWars.com offered a popular paid subscription service called Hyperspace, with various bonus content ranging from an exclusive deleted scene from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones to an actual live webcam feed from the set of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. (These were the days before an entire subreddit devoted to Star Wars leaks. They could do such things.) The most intriguing feature may have been “What’s the Story?” where an obscure character or setting from any of the films (including, believe it or not, the live-action Ewok television films) or the Clone Wars micro-series would be presented, and Hyperspace users would have a week or two to pen a short backstory for the element. The winning entries would be entered into the StarWars.com Databank. The entirety of Frix’s story comes from a “What’s the Story?” submission by Hyperspace user “Kast Morben.”
Yrica Quell, intrepid and complicated heroine of the Alphabet Squadron series, frequently reminds this longtime Star Wars gamer of another TIE ace who would defect to help the heroes. 1998’s Rogue Squadron is a classic that launched a trilogy of fantastic flight games to which Squadrons owes an undoubted debt. In the game, on one of Luke Skywalker’s first outings with the titular Rogues, the 128th TIE Interceptor squadron attacks, under the command of Lieutenant Kasan Moor. Moor is from Alderaan, and its recent destruction has rattled her loyalty. When her TIE is disabled, she reaches out over the comlink to offer defection. Luke accepts, but Wedge Antilles is slow to trust. Still, over the ensuing campaign against her former commander Moff Seerdon, she proves her loyalty, and the Rogues welcome her as one of their own. Besides a throwaway textual mention in the real-time strategy game Empire at War: Forces of Corruption, Moor has not appeared in any further Star Wars storytelling. You might say her X-wing is permanently…moored. (They let me do one dreadful pun per article.)
Yep, the wolf guy from the cantina in the original cut of the original Star Wars movie. Correct. Are you howling with laughter at the mental image of him trying to fit into an X-wing helmet? (They will yell at me for that second pun, but I had to pack another one in. Wolf pack, that is. Hey-oh. I’m so sorry.) Although onscreen we don’t see him fight for the Alliance, or do much of anything, or do anything since he was replaced with Ketwol in 1997’s Star Wars Special Edition, the 1995 short story anthology Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina gave him a whirlwind romance with, uh, that thing in the image above with him, Dice Ibegon. Together, they joined the Rebel Alliance. Sivrak would fly at the Battle of Hoth, where Ibegon would die in the trenches, and the Battle of Endor, where he would join her after his X-wing crashed to the forest moon. The story ends with a scene of their Force spirits joining Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Yoda at the celebration, because 1995 was a really weird time for Star Wars. It’s super cute, though, to be fair.
Hohass “Runt” Ekwesh
Do you like horses? Do you like Star Wars? I have wonderful news.
There’s not a lot that I can say that would be better than that illustration by Michael Sutfin from 2003’s New Essential Guide to Characters, but here we go. Hohass Ekwesh is a horse (I know he’s a Thakwaash, comments section, but look at him), which is objectively great, and Hohass Ekwesh is also an X-wing pilot in the misfit New Republic unit known as Wraith Squadron from Aaron Allston’s installments in the classic X-Wing series of novels, which is also objectively great. Hohass Ekwesh is a horse X-wing pilot, which is objectively great. That’s it. That’s the section.
Bonus trivia: Hohass Ekwesh was something of a mascot for concept artists on Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Alex Jaeger designed what he thought Ekwesh’s X-wing would have to look like, as seen below. You’re welcome.
With high casualty rates and life on the run from the Empire, it’s stressful to be an X-wing pilot. That’s where Wes Janson shines. The jocular Janson pranks Wedge Antilles in X-Wing: Wraith Squadron by telling him that he has recruited Kettch, an eager Ewok. With limb extensions allowing him to fly, Kettch is ready to fight the Imperial Remnant with all the fury of a reader in the comments section telling us who we should have included in this listicle instead of Kettch. This becomes a running gag throughout Allston’s books, with various Kettch-related pranks popping up constantly amongst the squadron. A stuffed Ewok doll (pictured above in art for the Star Wars Galaxy cards by Amy Provonost) begins popping up around their base. Eagle-eyed viewers of the recent Star Wars Squadrons preview will have noticed an Ewok bobblehead on the dashboard of an X-wing. We can only hope this is the latest iteration of Kettch himself.
“Yub, yub, Commander!”