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A pilot is a trained military unit specified to operate and maneuver an airborne or space borne vehicles.
A surprisingly large number of Covenant species possess the intelligence necessary to pilot craft. Groups of Brutes or Elites can operate a space borne Covenant ship, such as the CCS-class battlecruiser or the Reverence-class cruiser, by operation of holographic consoles at the control bridge of the warship. Engineers also help in the technical maintenance of warship systems, although it is unknown if they can pilot and operate the actual warship itself. A single Brute or Elite can also pilot Phantom or Spirit dropships.
Elites and Brutes can pilot a single person Banshee attack fighter. Grunts are also known to be able to pilot Banshees, albeit clumsily. It is unknown how they fit inside the Banshee's cockpit with a methane tank on as it is never seen in-game, it is mentioned only once, in Halo: The Flood. It may be possible that the Banshees that Grunts operate are customized to fit their particular anatomy, but there is no evidence to suggest this. It is unknown which species pilot the Vampire, but it is assumed Elites and Brutes are capable of doing it. If it is true that Elites and Brutes do pilot Vampires it seems they pilot in pairs, one piloting, and one as gunner.
Elite pilots have their own Flight Suit for operations in a variety of airborne vessels. It is unknown if Brutes have an equivalent.
Vehicles used by Covenant Pilots
In Foreunner society any Forerunner would be capable of piloting a ship due to their vast intelligence, however only Warrior-Servant class Forerunners would typically pilot the warships.
Towards the end of the Forerunner-Flood war (For unknown reasons) only Lifeworkers were allowed slipspace privileges. This was stated in Terminal 2 of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary.
It is worth noting that a Forerunner Dreadnought (considered to be a vastly powerful ship by Human and Covenant alike) actually pales in comparason to the size of a Behemoth, which in Halo: Primordium is said to be much more powerful however also slower than a Dreadnought.
A Forerunner Ancilla can also pilot ships (example: Mendicant Bias' fleet) and can even, if given the correct privileges, pilot a Halo Installation. (Multiple Forerunners are capable of collectively piloting a Halo Ring as shown in Halo: Primordium.)
United Nations Space Command
There are two main types of pilots in the UNSC Defense Force: those of the UNSC Navy and the Marine aviators of the UNSC Marine Corps. Large crews of Navy crewmen operate and maintain UNSC starships such as Marathon-class cruisers. Longsword-class Interceptors, AV-22 Sparrowhawks, Hornets and Pelican Dropships can all be operated by just one Navy pilot, as can Bumblebee lifepods.
It is seen that the Pelicans of the UNSC Pillar of Autumn are exclusively operated by two pilots from 23rd Naval Air Squadron, while in Halo 2, the Pelicans of the UNSC In Amber Clad are operated by Marine pilots.
While only select UNSCDF personnel operate space borne and airborne craft, all marines of the UNSC Marine Corps are seen to demonstrate prowess in operating all UNSC ground vehicles - Scorpions, Warthogs, and Mongooses, and even the Covenant Ghost as well. ODSTs also operate their own Orbital Drop Pods.
In Halo 2, Marine Dropship pilots wear ballistic helmets with a golden visor and a communications system installed in it. They wear the same armor as that of the Marine infantrymen. In Halo 3 they use the same body armor as that of a marine but with a modified helmet again, this time being a sealed helmet with a blue visor reminiscent of a modern fighter pilot's helmet. The chest armor is also equipped with an additional control panel.
An interesting fact is that in Halo 3, the Pilot's helmets are invulnerable to any projectile. Another odd fact is that it takes 1,000,000 cR to train a pilot, such as the education, flight simulation training, the written tests, fuel and the plane itself, not to mention the taxes that are paid to keep the service working.
In Halo: Reach, UNSC Sabre Pilots wear standard Marine uniform, with an enclosed, vacuum-sealed helmet (identical to the MJOLNIR Military Police helmet) and an air supply. These pilots' suits can apparently let them survive in space for a short while, as seen when they exit their Sabres on the external landing pad of the Corvette in the level Long Night of Solace.
Vehicles used by UNSC Pilots
- D77I-TCH Pelican Dropship
- Albatross Heavy Dropship
- D82-EST Darter
- D79H-TC Pelican
- G79H-TC/MA Pelican
- Shortsword Fighter-Bomber
- Skyhawk Fighter-Bomber
- C709 Longsword Interceptor
- F-41 Exoatmospheric Multirole Strike Fighter
Named Dropships/Fighters with Mentioned Pilots
- Bravo 001 -Flight Officer Mitchell - KIA
- Bravo 022- KIA
- Charlie 217 -Lieutenant Rick Hale - KIA
- Echo 136 -Lieutenant Peterson - KIA
- Echo 206 -Petty Officer Second Class Polaski - KIA
- Echo 419 -Captain Carol "Foehammer" Rawley - KIA + Lieutenant Frye - KIA + Crew Chief Cullen - KIA
- Kilo 023 -Hocus - active service
- Victor 933 - Active service although pelican was destroyed
- Knife 26 - (Not Mentioned), most likely KIA
- On theater, you can sometimes see a Pelican pilot drop off a Warthog or Mongoose onto a Covenant enemy.
- Sometimes Pelican pilots will have a symbol on their helmets which looks like the Marathon logo.
- The UNSC pilot's helmet is not sealed properly which is seen when looking up underneath their helmets.
- Pilots are the most well defended marines in the entire game series. Take any weapon you want, except a weapon which involves an explosion of any kind (such as a Rocket launcher). Shoot him in the head and no damage will be dealt.
- In the level Crow's Nest, the Pelican in the hangar is being piloted by Miranda Keyes and a female Marine, not a pilot.
- The pilots of Halo 2 wear helmets which are strongly reminiscent of the helmet of the cyborg from Bungie's earlier Marathon series of first-person shooter games.
- The Halo 3 pilots wear helmets very close in appearance to Halo 2's ODST helmet.
- The Halo 3 pilot helmets also have a passing resemblance to Halo Reach's Commando helmet.
- If a VTOL pilot is infected by the Flood in Halo 3 on The Covenant, they will take on the appearance of a standard Marine, not a pilot variation.
- The armor the pilots wear in Halo 3 resembles the Marines in Quake 4.