While rewatching A New Hope, I noticed in the final ceremony that there were a sizable section that were pilots, as indicated by their orange flight jumpsuits (middle section of ceremony congregation)


My understanding was that all pilots on Yavin 4 took part in the attack on the Death Star, and only a handful came back. So who are all these rebels in pilot jumpsuits?


This is addressed in the (canon) short story Duty Roster. In short, due to equipment shortages there are significantly more trained Rebel pilots than there are ships for them to fly.

“Like that, huh? Can’t say I blame you. Let’s get to it. You all know we have more pilots than birds. Given our losses at Scarif, we’re trying to figure out if we can even put Green and Blue squadrons together. I’d fly with anyone in this room—and you all deserve a place on this hop. But unfortunately that can’t happen.”

Add to that pilots for various spaceships that weren't needed for the mission and you've got a contingent of pilots that weren't involved in the Battle of Yavin.

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    Which then opens bigger can of worms, why did they let some kid from Tatooine who never saw X-wing before in his life, pilot one in most crucial and desperate battle for Rebellion :D – rs.29 Dec 8 '18 at 22:46
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    @rs.29 - Worthy of its own question – Valorum Dec 8 '18 at 22:49
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    Actually, there was such question, but I'm not sure accepted answer is still relevant today : scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/68745/… – rs.29 Dec 8 '18 at 22:52
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    @rs.29 open a bounty (as reward for updating answer) and possibly submit your own answer? – Boolean Dec 8 '18 at 22:57
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    @Boolean I'm not sure there is in-universe answer, and going into details would only make plot hole bigger. When I watched the movie first time it seemed natural to have main character in final battle. Only latter it dawned to me that any semi-serious military organization would not risk giving fighter plane to a kid who never flew one, except if they are really desperate and have no other choice (for example like Japan or Germany 1944/45) – rs.29 Dec 8 '18 at 23:02

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