The Legend of the Lost A-Wing Pilot

Image used Courtesy of Lucasfilm, Ltd. 

Remember in Return of the Jedi when Wedge and Lando are flying through the incomplete innards of the second Death Star? I would imagine that many of you do. It’s a seminal moment of the original trilogy. Many of us have probably joined Lando in his triumphant “Yeehah!” as the Falcon narrowly escapes the explosive demise of the doomed battle station. What I want to talk about is the A-Wing pilots who fly into the Death Star along with Wedge. The ones who (in a nice mirror of Wedge needing to pull out in A New Hope) pull out of the structure when Wedge asks them to because he’s hoping that they might take a few of the pursuing TIE fighters with them. Who are those forgotten heroes? We see one named Jake Farrell on-screen as he responds to Wedge, but there’s another A-Wing there. Despite Star Wars’s tendency to name and give an elaborate backstory to literally everyone, this second brave pilot is left unnamed and unrecognized, but it was not always so.

In 1993, as the X-Wing games were exploding in popularity across PC’s, author Michael Stackpole was tapped by Lucasfilm to write a series of books following the adventures of Wedge Antilles and the pilots of Rogue Squadron. One of the most enduring characters he created was the Alderaanian pilot, Tycho Celchu. There’s many reasons to love Tycho. One reason is that he is overwhelmingly selfless and dedicated to the New Republic. When many of the New Republic officials put harsh restrictions and sanctions on Tycho because of their paranoia that he may have been brainwashed to become an Imperial drone, he willingly accepts them because doing so will allow him to still serve the citizens of the galaxy. Through the novels and comics penned by Stackpole, we see that Tycho is much more than just a two-dimensional “Captain Justice” caricature. We see him visit the Alderaanian debris field to say “Goodbye” to his family, we see him risk his life time and time again for squadmates both new and old, and we see him strike up a delightfully charming romance with a woman named Winter.

All of these qualities made Tycho a character that many fans (including the hosts and listeners of our own Rogue Podron) have fallen in love with. As I listened along with many of you, I wondered how many of the listeners knew how close Tycho came to being retroactively canonized. In a post on Michael Stackpole’s blog he explains: “In Return of the Jedi there is a point in the Death Star when several fighters are ordered back to the surface to pull some of the TIE fighters off Lando and Wedge. Tycho is in the second A-wing to make that run. (The first A-wing’s pilot is shown and he didn’t look like Tycho to me, so I picked the second pilot, whom you do not see.)” Ah! That brave but forgotten A-Wing pilot left dangling at the beginning of this post was Tycho, at least in Stackpole’s head canon.

Tycho’s role as an A-Wing pilot is even reflected in merchandise. Hasbro brought out an action figure with Tycho in the familiar green of the A-Wing squadrons seen in Return of the Jedi.

Photo Used Courtesy of Hasbro; Composition Done by www.jeditemplearchives.com

Tycho’s role as a selfless A-Wing pilot has also been preserved in cardboard form by both Decipher and Fantasy Flight Games. A long time ago, Decipher held the license to produce a Star Wars collectible card game, and their Tycho Celchu card depicts him as one of the A-Wing pilots in the Rebel briefing concerning the attack on the second Death Star.

More recently, Fantasy Flight Games included Tycho as the ace pilot in both their X-Wing Miniatures game and Star Wars: Armada.

 

                  
Tycho Celchu Card from the X-Wing Miniatures game A-Wing Expansion Art for the Tycho Celchu X-Wing Miniatures Promotional Card from Spring 2015 tournaments Tycho Celchu card from the Star Wars: Armada game

Images Used Courtesy of Fantasy Flight Games

All of this merchandise depicts Tycho as a pilot of extraordinary skill but not as an X-Wing pilot.  He’s seen as an A-Wing pilot, not because we see behind the stick of an A-Wing in Legends stories, but because of Michael Stackpole’s retroactive inclusion of Tycho in the Battle of Endor.

With the Disney purchase of Lucasfilm and the subsequent dissolving of the Expanded Universe, Tycho Celchu has been relegated to canonical obscurity again. Despite the heartbreak of many fans, this fate fits Tycho. Since his introduction in Rogue Squadron, he stood for fighting the good of the defenseless without praise or recognition. That’s what makes him a legend both on the page and in many of our hearts.
If you want to share your love of Tycho or discuss this article, reach out to me on Twitter at @mapplebee7567!