In the second episode of Star Trek Voyager, Tom Paris tells Cpt. Janeway that he is the best pilot she has. Was there any merit in this statement or was his ego writing cheques his body couldn't cash?

In other words, is there any proof whatsoever that Tom Paris was one of the best pilots in Starfleet and not a mediocre one?

Edit: This question claims that Paris "was very good" but no evidence is given.

  • 5
    He was good enough to turn into a lizard. Jul 3, 2017 at 19:58
  • 12
    By episode two even a mediocre pilot might have been the best Janeway had. Jul 3, 2017 at 20:05
  • May have been a bit of bravado. Janeway sought him out for his familiarity with the Maquis she was set to pursue and perhaps "local knowledge" of the region for which they were headed. He may have felt indispensable and with the thinned out crew after the jump to the Delta quadrant, conflated it all into a belief in his own superior skill. Maybe a minor oversight in writing that muddled the rationale for him always drawing piloting duties.
    – Anthony X
    Jul 3, 2017 at 22:40
  • “one of the best pilots in Starfleet” — he didn’t say he was one of the best pilots in Starfleet; he said he was the best Janeway had. Her ship was stranded in the Delta Quadrant, cut off from the rest of Starfleet, with a crew of a bit over a hundred. (And I’m fairly sure one of the helm officers died in episode one, so that’s one less pilot available right there.) Jan 17, 2021 at 18:45

3 Answers 3


Seven of Nine, not typically effusive in her praise, certainly thinks so. Frankly, her opinion is about as unbiased as you can get.

SEVEN: I was speaking professionally. I often work with him on navigational problems. He [Paris] can be an erratic individual, but he's also a very competent officer and clearly a skilled pilot.

Voy: Drive

For the record, in the same episode Tom comes within a whisker of winning the 'Antarian Trans-Stellar Rally' (against fierce competition from a dozen other planets) so he's clearly no slouch, even by the standards set by other races and racers.

Additionally, Tom's official Bio on the StarTrek.com website notes his piloting skill not once, but three times, including an official commendation from Janeway.

He did hone his natural aptitude for piloting skills on craft large and small and proved adept at holo-engineering.

Janeway: ... Given a second chance, he has stood tall, not only keeping the ship safe through his piloting skills but counseling Torres through the wrenching division of her soul and saving his onetime Maquis enemy Chakotay, though his stint as an aide to the EMH Doctor was short.

Having said that, Tom fails to pass Ledosian Flight School. Pilot-Instructor Kleg refers to him as being merely adequate before flunking him for feeling the need, the need for speed.

KLEG: I am sorry to inform you, Mister Paris, but you have failed this examination. You will no longer be allowed to operate a vessel within Ledosian space.

Voy: Natural Law

  • That comment coming from Seven is very high praise indeed! However, my personal interpretation, at least from what we see on screen, is that Paris' statement was just bravado like most pilots would do. By the way, I am a bit disappointed nobody got my Top Gun reference in the question!
    – Hans Olo
    Jul 4, 2017 at 16:03
  • This does answer the question, but it would be also interesting know if there is any first hand proof, i.e. not just compliments from the other characters - e.g. him performing some manoeuvre or piece of piloting that sets him above other pilots seen on Star Trek.
    – komodosp
    Aug 30, 2022 at 8:21

Taken in the context in which he said it, Paris is simply stating that he is the best pilot Janeway has available to her in the situation. When they departed DS9, they had a full crew complement, including the Betazoid Lt. Stadi, who we can only assume to have been the best pilot she was able to get assigned to her (Paris was aboard to help them locate the Maquis, not fly the ship). The trip into the Badlands and the encounter with the displacement wave resulted in a loss of several crew members, including Stadi, leaving Janeway without a good pilot among her remaining "official" crew. This is not to detract from his skill/competence - he gets plenty of opportunities over the course of Voyager's trip home to show how good he is, but there's no certainty he's the best in Starfleet.



Tom Paris had a specialized gift as a pilot. I love this about his character. He had a highly specialized gift; in a specific area as a pilot, that made up for his flaws. He was an invaluable crew member.

Other crew members were just as skilled, but Tom was a cut above. The Alien entity in the episode "Alice" demonstrates this. As well as Seven's commentary mentioned above. There are dozens of episode clips where his pilot skills stand out.

Janeway was also very skilled. But Janeway yielded to Tom Paris in critical situations even over herself. This proves she knew Tom was a cut above the rest. The only serious situation where Tom's pilot skills were not utilized was in "Scientific Method" where Janeway flew at maximum speed into a binary star system to shake off hostile aliens. But this had more to do with crazy risk and raw luck vs. pilot skills.

I really love people with a "wild card" to play over their shortcomings like Tom Paris and Ensign Roe.

Voyager was an amazing series with amazing characters. I just wish the new owners of the Star Trek franchise understood this. :(

  • 1
    Please have a look at the help center to learn what this site is, and how it works. It is not a discussion forum; an answer should answer the question that was asked.
    – chirlu
    May 12, 2018 at 21:51
  • @Michael The plot in "Alice" indeed supports that Paris is a really good pilot! Nice catch ;-) Try to edit your answer a bit though to make it more to the point.
    – Hans Olo
    May 12, 2018 at 23:03

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