pilot, person responsible for safe navigation of a ship or airplane. A ship's pilot is an individual possessing local knowledge of coastal waters. Usually licensed by public authority (in the United States, by the U.S. Coast Guard), he is taken on board to conduct a ship to or from port. The airplane pilot, in contrast to the ship's pilot, has overall command of the craft, which is operated, generally, with the assistance of a copilot. Before an airplane pilot can be licensed in the United States, he must clock a prescribed amount of solo flying experience and pass a series of tests given by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.