It seems like every officer I've ever seen on the show is also a skilled pilot, with each more skilled than the last.

Is pilot training a requirement at Starfleet academy? Or is piloting a space ship as common place as driving a car?

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    That may not be so. However, every cadet does go on a training cruise en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Training_cruise Commented Sep 18, 2012 at 5:03
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    @ChetterHummin you should add that as the answer Commented Sep 18, 2012 at 6:31
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    @NikolaiDante Well, I'm not really answering the question definitively. Commented Sep 18, 2012 at 6:38
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    @BBlake Phlox wasn't a Starfleet officer so he wouldn't have been through the Academy. The Doctor could access the Emergency Command Hologram program which would have undoubtedly given him pilot knowledge. I can't recall the exact episode but I do remember Drs. Crusher and McCoy piloting shuttles. That leaves Pulaski as the only unknown. I'll try and dig up exact references for McCoy and Crusher.
    – Monty129
    Commented Sep 18, 2012 at 12:02
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    Aside from a canonical reference: This is just another extension of The Main Characters Do Everything (Warning: TVTropes link) - a trope that is rather pervasive across the Star Trek franchise, and many others. The trope, as it applies to Star Trek, is also discussed a bit in my question here.
    – Iszi
    Commented Sep 18, 2012 at 13:04

5 Answers 5


In the episode "The First Duty", we find out flight status is required to complete the third year of the academy. This would suggest that every graduate of Starfleet Academy in the Next Gen. era would have at least the knowledge necessary to pilot small craft. Additionally, as a cadet, you are often tapped to fill in the spots for other cadets sims and tests. For example, the Kobayashi Maru tests a captain, but the rest of the simulation is filled out with cadets that have already passed the test and visiting officers. Basically, any command staff is intimately familiar with all bridge positions. The only exceptions to this rule is medical staff, which is sometimes not Starfleet trained as well as and the occasional visiting scientist.


Working on a starship is likely to be similar to working on a submarine. Thus I would guess there is something similar to the US Navy Submarine Warfare Insignia that indicates a basic level of competence with all of the ships main systems, including piloting. It is probably not a requirement, except, I would assume, to qualify as a bridge officer.

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    It is a requirement. It's impossible to graduate the academy without the skill. Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 7:17

The short answer is yes all Starfleet officers would require flight training and be pilots. The reason is that Starfleet officers were intended by the series creator, Gene Roddenberry to be at least as qualified as real life modern day Astronauts/Cosmonauts.

"every man and woman aboard the USS Enterprise is the equivalent of a qualified astronaut, therefore an officer."

In real life NASA and all other space agencies astronauts are required to be qualified as pilots and must fly a certain number of hours each and every week to maintain their skills. If you are not a pilot when you get the job...they train you up to be one. Furthermore, notice that the type of academic degrees which would correspond best to the training offered to enlisted military personnel are not considered qualifying for Astronaut training... including surprisingly Aeronautical Engineering.

Furthermore as others will point out in an evacuation scenario whoever happens to get on that shuttle, runabout, escape pod etc had better know how to fly it. Whether they are the Ensign cook, Ensign cleaner, or the Captain. Not to mention understand the basic theory of how warp drive and a nuclear powered impulse drive works and all that.. simultaneously.

To say it again simply. Roddenberry intended for all Starfleet personnel to be as qualified if not way more so than the people who flew to the Moon, or who were NASA astronauts. Ergo, anything we see about real life space programs applies. Given the cannon statements on screen this reasoning holds up.

  • It's funny to have to reference something which is more or less self evident since we almost never see NCO's or the like on camera. Commented Jun 28, 2018 at 23:11
  • @HontasFarmer If you make the assertion in your answer, you need to reference the supporting source. You should not expect people to assume facts-not-in-evidence, should not expect them to have come to the conclusions you have. Part of providing an expert answer is justifying that answer, and expert answers is what SE is all about.
    – T.J.L.
    Commented Jul 18, 2018 at 13:43
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    @HontasFarmer: Was Miles O'Brien not an NCO? Commented Jul 19, 2018 at 10:30
  • @TJL Expert answers for a knowledgeable audience need not cite things that can be taken as common knowledge. i.e. I don't need to reference Newton's Principia to type force equals mass times acceleration. Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 21:40
  • @BinaryWorrier Obrien is about the only confirmed NCO we see. Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 21:40

Based on the on-screen evidence, Starfleet officers, whatever their speciality, receive at least minimal training as pilots. Cadets at the Academy have flight training, and can become members of flight demonstration teams (TNG: "The First Duty"), and virtually all of the characters have been shown piloting, at a minimum, shuttles, regardless of position or department: essentially every major character in all the Star Trek series have been seen flying, at least, shuttles (too many episodes to list).

In addition, it appears that bridge officers also have to be qualified to pilot the ship in an emergency. In TOS, Uhura took conn and helm in different episodes when the regular assigned crewmember was incapacitated ("The Naked Time" being a prime example), Worf was in a front seat in "The Naked Now", Troi took one of the front seats in _Star Trek Generations when the ships was under attack by the Klingons, and so on.

  • IIRC, Beverly Crusher also took command path training so she could sit bridge shifts, which was not usual for medical corps.
    – JohnP
    Commented Jul 18, 2018 at 15:56

When you think about everyone needs to know how to pilot at least a shuttle and escape pod. Runabouts are about the same as shuttles so you would know how to operate them as well. Reason for this would be if there was an evacuation you need to find a way out and may be the only one available to fly. These would be basic skills for survival. Those designated as actual pilots would be MUCH better trained and get much more regular flight activity. I would imagine most of the time starships are only piloted by Commisioned Officers and most shuttles / runabouts / fighters by at least Warrant Officers though being in space and the large need for pilots some Petty Officers and higher Non-Com ranks could seek and gain approval such as Chief O’Brien but he would be an exception rather than the rule for anything larger than basic shuttle or escape pod survival training for enlisted ranks.

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    Canonical sources for this would greatly improve this answer.
    – Obsidia
    Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 21:31

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