In Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, how are two people (Peter Quill and Rocket) both able to seemingly pilot their (Milano or Benatar) spacecraft simultaneously, while trying to flee from the Sovereign craft, after Rocket stole some of their batteries?

Only one pilot can fly at one time, yet as an example, they both make hand movements of a shifter arm of sorts, in efforts to dodge the Sovereign craft and their firepower.

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    In (some) real planes with dual controls it is possible for both pilot and co-pilot to simultaneously attempt control. It's usually not a good idea to do this, though.
    – HorusKol
    Mar 3 '21 at 0:24
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    @HorusKol Some? I would say the vast majority of airplanes have dual, linked controls. The only ones that don't are planes like the deHavilland Beaver with it's "throwover" control yoke, and more recent Airbus aircraft with their separated fly-by-wire sidesticks. Mar 3 '21 at 3:56

They're not both piloting the ship, the control arm they are using and flipping is used to switch the pilot from either set of controls. This is backed up by their bickering over who is the better pilot as they swap controls back to themselves.

Drax: Quill, to make it through that you’d have to be the greatest pilot in the universe.

Quill: Lucky for us, I…

Rocket: I am. What are you doing?

Quill: I’ve been flying this rig since I was 10 years old.

Rocket: I was cybernetically engineered to pilot a spacecraft.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

It is later backed up when Gamora scolds them both after the crash landing.

Gamora: Either one of you could have gotten us through that field… had you flown with what’s between your ears instead of what’s between your legs!

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2


There's a handful of ways to address how two pilot stations could control a craft, each having their pros and cons.

Boeing uses mechanical linkages between the controls on both control yokes, If there is a dispute on who is in control then I guess the stronger pilot wins. This makes the control yoke as much of an indicator as a control. It shows to the pilot monitoring what the pilot flying is inputing to the control surfaces. When the autopilot is active the yoke moves to indicate to the crew what the computer is doing.

AirBus control sticks are not mechanically linked and the fly by wire system averages the inputs. I found this interesting in the discussion of an AirBus crash. In an attempt to recover from a stall one pilot decided they needed speed and so was pushing the control stick full ahead, this would trade altitude for speed. The other pilot (as I recall having less experience than the other) wanted to gain altitude and so was pulling the control stick full back, this would reduce the speed of the craft as it climbs. The fly by wire system averaged the inputs and centered the elevator position. The plane crashed. I believe that AirBus aircraft have the ability to lock out one or both stations from controlling the aircraft, this to prevent an accidental bump from a crew member climbing into their seat and giving the aircraft a bump as well. Locking out both pilot stations would obviously mean the autopilot is in control.

I recall seeing some commentary on a US Navy ship collision where either of the two pilot stations can be selected. This "fly by wire" ship can also divide duties between the stations, an example being one pilot controlling the rudder and the other the engine throttles. One contributing factor of the collision was that there was confusion on which pilot was controlling what. As an aside there was confusion on who was giving orders as the captain came to the bridge but had not stated explicitly that he was giving orders to the crew or acting as an observer and giving suggestions to the conning officer. It might seem obvious that the captain's orders always supersede that of a subordinate but that's not always the case. Why this is the case gets into hundreds of years of maritime traditions.

Seeing a clip from GotG2 implies the pilot station in control of the ship is selected. As the two fought over control of the ship there were green lights that would light up next to Quill and Rocket indicating who was flying at the time. I don't recall what lever, button, or whatever it was that selected the active pilot station, only that the station which was controlling the craft alternated between the two.

  • 1
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. Since the question was specifically about GotG2, you should lead with your final paragraph, since that's what addresses the movie. You can leave the rest in as additional support, but it would be great if you could find a pair of screencaps that show the indicator lights selected first for Quill and then for Rocket.
    – DavidW
    Mar 3 '21 at 5:19

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