In The Force Awakens, it's mentioned at least twice that Finn is not a pilot.

First, when Finn rescues Poe:

Poe: Why are you helping me?

Finn: Because it's the right thing to do.

Poe: You need a pilot.

Finn: [chagrined] I need a pilot.

And later, when Finn and Rey are trying to escape the First Order on Jakku:

Finn: We can't outrun them!

Rey: We might... in that quadjumper!

Finn: We need a pilot!

Rey: We've got one!

Finn: You?

However, at the end of The Last Jedi, we see Finn joining the final battle on Crait in one of the ski speeders. Where did he learn to fly so quickly?

During my initial viewing of the film, I presumed that he only joined the battle out of desperation, as by that point the Resistance had lost most of its remaining members (with only a few dozen successfully making it to Crait). However, from my observation, he seemed to pilot it fairly well for someone who's supposedly new to flying. Are speeders of that type just easier to pilot than other types of hovering/flying vehicles?

  • 7
    I'm not a truck driver, but that doesn't mean I couldn't drive a truck in a straight line.
    – Adamant
    Oct 20, 2018 at 1:19
  • He obviously had some, if little, training to fly from the first order
    – Ginge
    Oct 20, 2018 at 3:03
  • 2
    My guess would be that the FO trained him with sub-light speed flight and speeders, so that he could be more effective in battle, but not with hyper-drives as that would make desertion easier. he needed finn in TFA to pilot the ships hyperdrive. It's also worth noting that speeders have one less axis to worry about so Will definitely be easier to drive.
    – Ummdustry
    Oct 20, 2018 at 7:29

3 Answers 3


In a deleted scene from The Force Awakens, we can see that Finn is a pretty decent speeder pilot. What he seems to lack is combat flight skills, hence why he busts Poe out for his daring escape.

A hasty search took them to a parking area filled with a smattering of vehicles. From the varied assortment, they settled on an isolated snow speeder. Between Finn’s training and Rey’s knowledge of machines, they managed to get it fired up.

The Force Awakens - Official Novelisation

Even by The Last Jedi (when he's had some pilot training courtesy of Rose on board the escape shuttle) he's still pretty poor at it, as this exchange with Rose shows.

“What? I’m the guy who’s most familiar with what they’re going to throw at us. And the only one who’s ever seen that big cannon of theirs.”
“This isn’t like flying a shuttle, which you were kind of bad at.”

The Last Jedi: Expanded Edition

  • 1
    I don't buy that he had any kind of pilot training from the Resistance. The Last Jedi apparently takes place almost immediately after TFA, and Finn has been in a coma since then. He awakes from said coma in TLJ. There's been no time for him to receive said training. Minor quibble
    – NKCampbell
    Oct 20, 2018 at 16:43
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    @NKCampbell - Actually you're right and the answer needed editing. Rose gave him some basic shuttle flying lessons while they were en route to Canto Bight
    – Valorum
    Oct 20, 2018 at 17:13

Finn could drive speeders, but could not fly spacecraft.

The reference to driving is deliberate: in SW, various types of speeders perform the same functions as cars in our universe. Although speeders technically do fly, apparently they are much easier to use than space fighters like an X-wing or TIE fighter. In episode 2, we see thousands of them on Coruscant, while trained spacecraft pilots like Poe are essentially specialists.

Finn, as an average First Order stormtrooper, did not receive training to become a space pilot, but could operate speeders. This is similar to most soldiers in modern armies being able to operate cars, but not fighter jets.


My men are exceptionally trained. Programmed from birth.

We hear General Hux say this, and it is very probable that the First Order programs all of the soldiers to have the basic ability to fly, although if some showed some more talent than others, they could be placed as a pilot in the First Order. Finn could have shown no special talent to fly, having just the basic ability to fly, and be moved to a different department, sanitation.

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    I would note that Finn was being trained to fight, not be a cleaning professional. Finn's department wasn't sanitation. That's one of those boring but temporary jobs that they make recruits do in militaries to "build character." Finn was actually a very good soldier, one of Phasma's personal favorites.
    – Adamant
    Oct 20, 2018 at 3:36
  • But most should, and probably have, the basic ability to fly, in desperate situations
    – Ginge
    Oct 20, 2018 at 14:47
  • 1
    "Poe shifted from foot to foot. He’d have felt better if he were behind the stick, of course, but Rose and Finn knew how to fly. Well, okay, Finn didn’t. But Rose was rated for a light shuttle. Heck, even C-3PO could probably handle a light shuttle." - TLJ Novelisation
    – Valorum
    Oct 20, 2018 at 17:14
  • It probably is a requirement for most soldiers, to be able to fly
    – Ginge
    Oct 20, 2018 at 22:33

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