Always Know A Pilot
A pilot's services become important/necessary in the course of an adventure.
In times of disaster, when immediate escape is necessary, or the hero is in need of transportation to confront the evil causing the mayhem, it is invaluable that he has, some time over the course of his past adventures, met and befriended a pilot. Sometimes they just find one on the fly, but a regular may also step up to do the job. In these cases, the regular may be with the group partially because he knows how to fly, but it's also possible that it's never come up before. The pilot's capability level varies, although he's usually not completely incompetent. He may be an ace pilot, or he may have just had a few lessons, but either way his services are called upon and, sometimes reluctantly, he accepts the challenge. Of course, this is not going to be easy. Any number of things may occur to complicate the aviator's foray into heroism, from mechanical difficulties to running out of gas to enemy fire. In some cases, the pilot will die in the process, going down with his plane. In lighter cases, he may turn out to have ejected or have survived the crash....thus allowing the hero to enlist his services the next time he needs air transport.
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- In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, whenever a airplane is needed, someone "coincidentally" knows/has a way to drive it.(although Joseph has the bad luck of crashing every plane he gets in, whether he's driving or not). In Vento Aureo, Abbacchio flies an airplane with Moody Blues by replaying the actions of the last pilot in that plane.
- Dude Hennick from Terry and the Pirates. Dude is a frat brother of Pat Ryan's and Pat happens to run into him at the airport in Hong Kong at the exact point when he needs a pilot.
- Gonzo reporter Robert Caulfield hires cropduster Albain to search for astronaut Charles Brubaker from Capricorn One. Albain immediately deduces that Caulfield is working a heist, and demands half the take as payment. Albain flies his biplane well enough to checkmate two helicopter gunships bent on eradicating all witnesses.
- In the movie version of Clear and Present Danger, Ryan and Clark, in Columbia, need a pilot for their chopper. Clark finds Buck Zimmer, passed out at a bar, and presses him into service.
- In The Mummy Returns Rick gets his old friend Izzy to fly him and his family in pursuit of Imhotep
- 2012: When John Cussack and his family force the reluctant Gordon to pilot a small plane and later a much bigger plane.
- Zig-Zagged in The Incredibles, when Helen Parr, aka Elastigirl needed a plane ride to a tropical island in the middle of nowhere, she called her pilot friend who used to fly her around during her days as a superhero. The surprise comes when it turns out it's just to borrow the plane, because she pilots it herself. It was almost played straight though, as the original version in the script had her friend piloting the plane and dying when it crashed, but this was cut for various reasons, including the potential for Moral Guardians to object at killing someone off in a family movie, and the fact that doing so would have been a We Hardly Knew Ye situation. As it turns out, having Helen pilot the plane herself leads a lot of weight and depth to her character, too.
- Independence Day: The military is so devastated that there is literally a call for anyone with prior piloting experience. Randy Quaid's doofy dad character has experience with.... crop dusting? As a bonus, the President reveals that he too was once a pilot and will be joining the fight.
- Mars Attacks!. Byron Williams rescues Tom Jones from Martians. He needs a pilot to fly him to Washington D.C., and it turns out that Tom Jones knows how to fly a plane!
- Seeking a Friend for the End of the World: Dodge's neighbor Penny wants to get home to the UK to see her family before the asteroid wipes out humanity, fortunately Dodge's dad is a pilot. Most of the movie is the trip to try and get to him and his plane.
- The hero in Siberian Light knows a pilot, which turns out to be very useful. (This may be because the author is obsessed with Russian Airplanes)
Live Action TV
- Thomas Magnum, P.I. frequently seeks help from T.C., a helicopter pilot that conducts aerial tours of Hawaii. Though it's often an imposition, T.C. routinely comes through for The Hero.
- Person of Interest: Finch knows how to fly airplanes. This comes in handy when Reese finds himself on a very troubled jetliner that is suddenly lacking in pilots. Finch being miles away isn't a problem, nor is it much of a problem that he has only ever flown small planes. But Finch is clearly not comfortable with the arrangement.
- In 'Deus Ex'', J.C. Denton can befriend a pilot who turns out to be his chopper pilot. He can die, or you can deliver the narmiest line ever.
- Mass Effect's Joker, who saves you from certain death on half the missions.
- Mega Man X5: if you opt the launch the Shuttle to stop the Colony Drop, Zero (one of the playable characters) reveals that he can pilot the thing, so he volunteers for it. This ability is never mentioned in prev. games, nor any title after that. It's mostly as a justification (read: plot mandate) for Zero turning bad with the effect of the Colony Drop (that is, if your effort to stop it fails).
- In Tales of the Abyss you get a pretty useful pilot, Noelle. She may join you after you save her brother, but oddly enough, you can wait out the timer and let him die, and this doesn't effect whether she joins you.
- In Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, Chip and Dale have a pilot as part of the team, Gadget Hackwrench. As suggested by her name, she doubles as an inventor.
- Franklin. A downplayed variation of this appears in "Franklin and Snail's Dream," in which Snail's dream is to fly, but many different attempts by Franklin prove futile, that is until Mr. Turtle calls on a pilot friend of his, who just happens to also be a snail, and flies around in her own snail-sized plane, to make Snail's dream come true.
- This trope was played for laughs in Kim Possible. She would get rides from people who would always say, "Oh, this little favor is nothing compared to..." and list some sort of Noodle Incident that she helped them out with.
- The Simpsons: Mel Gibson sneaks into town to check on the progress of his Film Preview.
Hannah (a marketing person): How'd you get here from L. A. so fast?Gibson: John Travolta flew me in his jet. Now I have to help him move next weekend. He deliberately waited until we were in the air to ask me.
- Later, Gibson presses Travolta into service again, turning the plane around so he can go back & find Homer, the one person who didn't like the film.
Travolta: Ahh, but you promised to help me move!
Hello, Unknown Troper. You'll need to get known to lend a hand here.