December 7, 2023

Did the best pilot in the galaxy study at the Empire’s elite flight academy?

With Solo: A Star Wars Story, just a few days away for many people, I felt it was only fitting to talk about where he could have possibly gone for flight training. While unlikely, there is a chance that the flight school Han went to and got kicked out of, was Skystrike Academy. This is a flight academy that has previously been seen on the Star Wars: Rebels episode titled “The Antilles Extraction”. In this episode, Sabine Wren goes undercover as a cadet in order to rescue not just Wedge Antilles, but also two of his fellow cadets. I won’t say who they are here, so as not to spoil the episode.


While this concept of Han learning how to fly while in the Imperial Naval Academy has been around for many years, ever since Disney bought Lucasfilm back in 2012, the idea has been considered non-canon. This is to say as if it never happened in course of Star Wars history. With the release of the many trailers leading up to the said movie and the novel Star Wars: Last Shot, this seems to have slightly changed. Rather than making it all the way through the academy and actually serving on an Imperial Naval ship for a bit, as in current legends material, Han was, in his own words, “…kicked out of the academy, for having a mind of [his] own.”

Due to that, it brought up the question of where the Empire sent him for flight training. Even if he was naturally gifted at flying, such as Hera Syndulla of Star Wars Rebels fame, said skills could always be improved. As such, there was one highly notable flight school talked about in said show: Sky Strike Academy. Think of it as the Top Gun school of the Star Wars universe, you only got sent there if you had real, raw talent. If the original trilogy movies are anything to go by, Han had that in spades. At the time of the original trilogy, the only person that might have been able to rival him would be the previously mentioned Hera Syndulla, an idea that was brought up in the canon episode of Forces of Destiny: An Imperial Feast. It’s a funny two-three minute short that along with the rest of the series, deserves a watch.


Even though it may seem like a bit of a stretch for the Empire to have sent Han to Sky Strike out of all other flight schools (including ones that might have been closer to his homeworld of Corellia or whatever planet he was on when he enlisted), not only does it make sense for someone of his skill to be sent to there, but the timeline, or at least the best I could understand it, seems to line up.

According to Wookiepedia, Sky Strike Academy was founded during the time of the Empire, roughly eight BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin). That would have meant that Han would have been around twenty-three to twenty-four standard years old, aka well within the age range and time frame of the movie. Now, while the chances of this being the case are unlikely, it would be a nice little nod to Rebels fans, being as the show has just ended a few short months ago.

While currently, no canon information exists as to which flight academy Han attended before being kicked out, there is also no information that I could find to refute this either. While unlikely, it is still something fun to think about until the movie premieres at a theater near you.

In the meantime, let’s take a dive into legends to see where he could have gone should Lucasfilm choose to resurrect that. In legends history (according to Wookiepedia), Han attended a place called the Academy of Carida. Due to the high standards that needed to be met during training, the graduation rate was exceedingly low. To do so and go on to serve in the Imperial Navy really said something about oneself. This is especially true of Han Solo who was reported to have graduated at the top of his class with the rank of lieutenant.


This is not to say that in legends like current canon, Han didn’t have his problems with authority. Rather, it seems that at least one thing this film has included so far from legends is his numerous incidents with his superiors that earned him both numerous demerits and conduct reports. Not surprising given his character in both legends and canon history.

During his time at the academy, Han managed to earn high marks for his incredible flying skills, at one point successfully operating a damaged U-33 Orbitaltal Lift Loader that had been purposefully rigged to self-destruct by his training officer Alexandr Horace. In the process, he also managed to save not only the lives of many of his fellow cadets but also that of Academy Dean, Horace Wyrmyr, by bringing the damaged ship in for a perfect landing. For this amazing feat, Han earned the nickname “Slick” from his fellow cadets.

With all that said, would it be surprising to learn that in current canon history Han did actually find his way to Sky Strike Academy where only the best of the best trained? Whether your answer is yes or no, please feel free to leave a comment and discuss it below.


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