The Pilot was some sort of space smuggler who was found holding cargo owned by the Imperial Hegemony of Man. When confronted by the HM Absolution, he was ordered to power down all systems other than life support. Rather than surrendering, he jumped away, leaving his friend Z to be captured. Feeling bad about this, he enters the Gungeon, hoping to go back in time to save Z.
If the Bullet That Can Kill The Past is used on The Pilot, he will be brought to when he and Z were collecting resources from a destroyed spacecraft. The Pilot urges Z to hurry up with the collection so they can leave. Z responds by saying that there's no way the Imperial Hegemony of Man will find them out here. Suddenly the HM Absolution arrives and demands for the Pilot to power down all systems other than life support. Z tells The Pilot to use his Jump Drive to escape but the Pilot refuses as he knows that since Z doesn't have a Jump Drive of his own, it would mean that he would be abandoning his friend. Z again urges the Pilot to leave. The Player is then given the option to "Divert all power to forward weapons" or "Escape to the Warp". If the first option is selected the Pilot will begin a bullet hell style battle with the HM Absolution in his spaceship. Should the Pilot defeat the HM Absolution, Z will compliment the Pilot's skills and ask where he learned them. The Pilot will say "Another time" and then leave the area together with Z.
When entering the past, The Pilot will not be holding any weapons due to the spaceship and its built-in weapons, and will have an active item that shoots rockets upon use.
The Pilot probably has the largest variance in performance when compared to the other Gungeoneers. His starting weapon, the Rogue Special, is the weakest among the main 4 due to its low damage, high reload times, large spread, and pitiful range. Furthermore, none of The Pilot's starting items provide direct in-combat buffs. This, combined with the lack of a secondary weapon, can make the beginning of runs quite difficult if The Pilot is unable to come across decent items. However, where The Pilot lacks in immediate power he makes up for in his ability to quickly amass resources.
Trusty Lockpicks can be used on any locked object except for NPC cells and allow The Pilot access to rewards that other Gungeoneers would usually be denied. If you ever find yourself with no available keys and about to leave a floor with unopened chests or doors still on the map, there is no negative to using the Trusty Lockpicks in an attempt to unlock one of them. Though the Lockpicks can be used multiple times throughout a floor, it is quite dangerous to do so as it is always possible for a key to appear upon the completion of a later room or boss. Because of this, if the lock is destroyed, the chest that you could have now opened is cut off from you. If you find yourself in a position with 2 locked chests and 1 key, you should use the key on the more valuable chest and save the Lockpick for the other. If you have to choose between 2 locked chests but only have the Lockpick, use it on the more valuable one.
The Pilot is the Gungeoneer of choice for runs aimed towards completing the Tinker's and quests as the Trusty Lockpicks can potentially alleviate the handicap of being unable to buy items or open chests. Disarming Personality allows The Pilot to purchase items from any shop at a reduced cost which makes buying pickups much more forgiving. The Pilot's items also make retrieving the Prime Primer easier, as Trusty Lockpicks can make up for the inability to buy keys. Hidden Compartment provides 10% extra ammo with all guns, and can be incredibly powerful if The Pilot can get his hands on 2 active items. Hidden Compartment also makes the retrieval of the Arcane Gunpowder and Busted Television easier as the items are considered actives and can be put in the second active slot if it isn't already occupied.
Overall, The Pilot is more luck based than the other Gungeoneers simply due to the inconsistency of the Trusty Lockpicks. While he does start out quite weak, The Pilot can quickly become a powerful force due to Disarming Personality giving him more control over shop purchases and Hidden Compartment allowing for 2 Active Items. The Pilot is one of the most useful Gungeoneers for quests involving stockpiling Keys and Shells or transporting Active Items across floors.
- Considering Pilot's spaceship in his past is a different character from the Pilot the player used throughout the run beforehand, all of the player's heart containers, armor, blanks, keys and casings are reset upon accessing Pilot's past, unlike most other pasts.
- This would also imply that items that would typically carry to pasts, like Galactic Medal of Valor, will not be carried to Pilot's past.
- Nicknames that NPCs refer to The Pilot as include:
- The Pilot appears to be carrying a Void Marshal on his boss fight opening screen.
- The Pilot's past appears to reference the opening scene from the first episode of Firefly.
- In an unused line of dialogue, upon defeating his past, The Pilot says: "For now, let's get all this highly addictive and illegal spice to our child buyers."
- When Z asks where The Pilot got his skills, he says, "Another time," referencing the fact that The Pilot did indeed receive those skills in another time, i.e in the future when The Pilot entered the Gungeon.
- In The Breach, a miniature toy version of The Pilot's ship can be seen next to him.
- The Pilot appears to be an amalgam of "Lovable Rogue" characters from science fiction; this includes Han Solo from the Star Wars franchise (where his A-skin seems to be derived from) and Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly.
- Z's appearance could be a reference to the character Falco from the Star Fox series of games.
- The Pilot could also be a reference to the main protagonist of the anime Space Dandy, sharing similar hairstyles and similar unreliable weapons.
- If you beat The Pilot’s past in co-op, Z will say “I can't believe you did that! Where did you learn those moves? And who is that?”
- "Escape to the warp" and the look of the boss ship could be references to Warhammer 40k.
- The unique active item used in The Pilot's past shares a sprite with Rocket-Powered Bullets.