TIE pilots served in the Starfighter Corps of the Imperial Navy by piloting the various TIE Series starfighters. Distinguished by all-black flight suits and bulky, fully enclosed, vacuum-sealed helmets, the Galactic Empire at its height produced millions of TIE pilots and generally considered them expendable assets. The TIE pilots formed the elite of the Imperial Navy’s Flight Branch.
They were referred to as “bucketheads” by Rebel pilots, due to their bulky helmets. Within the Imperial forces they were often referred to as “coffin jockeys” due to the high mortality rate of those manning the vulnerable TIE fighters, a holdover from the Galactic Republic’s use of clones during the Clone Wars prior to the Empire’s formation. Among the pilots, they were known as “vac-heads” and “ground-hogs,” in reference to their roles in the Navy and Army, respectively, due to a significant rivalry between the two factions.