Joseph Khumalo[1][2][3][4] (callsign: Knight) was a Terran pilot of the Confederation on the TCS Tiger Claw.

The character is listed in the Wing Commander film as Knight (see nametag) and Mr. Knight, as if it is his surname;[2] in an apparent typo, the Terran Confederation Handbook refers to him as "Kuhmelo".[5] The character is based on and intended to be the Joseph "Knight" Khumalo of Wing Commander I and shares the same history. Strangely enough he appears to be killed in the film and novels despite him appearing in later sources.

Character HistoryEdit

Joseph Khumalo is an African pilot hailing from Kroonstad, South Africa[1] although Lubango, Angola was also his homeland[6]. He was one of the more easy-going pilots on the roster, as implicated when rumors spread that he had Kilrathi sympathies, which never proved true.


At the age of 21 he was a 2nd Lieutenant and fought in the famous Enyo Engagement. He was wingman to Captain Maria Alvarez aka 'la Doña'. While hugging and strafing a transport they did a tight turn going from its back to its belly, and ran right through a swarm of fighters headed the other way. Wishing not to maneuver and cut off from la Doña, he just fired as fast as possible and picked off a couple of fighters going after his wingleader. La Doña called him her "White Knight" and it was during this battle that he received the callsign "Knight" for his valiant fighting.[1]

He was married and had a wife back home.[7]

Pilgrim UprisingEdit

By 2654, he held the rank of Captain and was assigned to serve on the TCS Tiger's Claw. During his career on the Claw Knight was among the highest scores in the sim and was at the top of the Broadsword flight roster.

However he had a low kill score, although his potential greater than that. While flying, he spent some time advising and tutoring newer pilots, or giving guidance to panicked pilots during times of radio silence in order to return to base. In a few occasions he talked pilots through their first kills.[8]

Knight was sitting next to Rosie Forbes and Adam Polanski in the mess hall when Todd Marshall and Christopher Blair showed up.

Knight cockpit

Knight in the cockpit

He flew a patrol mission with Spirit shortly before the jump into the Ulysses Corridor. Right before, he was in the mess hall and commented that the pulsar they would jump "eats suns for breakfast"

Knight death

Knight's "death"

Later, he was flying a CF-131 Broadsword alongside James Taggart with the Baker Wing near the Ulysses Corridor. They were on their way to attack a Sivar-class battleship near Planet 415 when his fighter was shot out from under him, and he was presumed killed.[2][9] Cheddarboy and Gangsta were brought in to replace him and Rosie who had died in the same battle.[10]

Knight's death in the movie is odd, considering that the Wing Commander I character he is based on, already appears alive during the Vega Campaign, which is set later than the movie. From the point of view of the movie, Knight has survived the battle, or has been "resurrected". No explanation is given about his death in the movie and appearance in WCI. If he did survive in an escape pods, they only hold generally only enough air for about one hour. The only known ones in the sector who could have 'rescued' knight following the battle could only be Kilrathi patrols and fleet in the area that did not travel to Sol sector (including Dorkir, a destroyer, and Dralthis, and many others). If he was captured by one of the Kilrathi fleet its not known how he escaped. Of course its possible a Terran civilian transport could have jumped into the area as well later (as the situation was classified, they wouldn't have been part of the count of military ships in the sector).

Vega CampaignEdit

Joseph Khumalo is listed in an article in the 2654.110 Claw Marks issue on the official date of the start of the Vega Campaign.


Knight during the Vega Campaign

Khumalo doesn't appear in the game until McAuliffe. However, Claw Marks would suggest he returned as early as 2654.110 (around the middle of Pilgrim Stars.) The loss of Knight is only mentioned once first chapter of Pilgrim Stars, and never brought up again. But most of the action is focused on issues that anything dealing with his return concurrently with the book would more or less be non-essential to the story.

The Claw Marks and WC1's starting date is problematic on a number of fronts with the addition of later material. Some of the worst issues involves characters including Knight being missing from the ship/dead even up to the end of the story .163. Though there is perhaps room that some of the "dead" characters could have returned behind the scenes, and are just not mentioned, for others who are alive but off ship for most of the story, their locations simply do not mesh with original WC1's starting date.

The WC4 Guide claims that the end of the Vega campaign is some six months after McAuliffe (Vega campaign is said to end around .325 in some sources), if this was the case McAuliffe would take place around June (.151-.181), and taking WC1&2USG and some of the WC1 in-game references together into account, that WC1 Enyo missions is only within a couple of days before McAuliffe. Assuming that Vega campaign begins not long after .163 (after the end of the book) and LaFong boards not long after that it is possible for there to be roughly six months (probably closer to 5 to 5.5 months) between McAuliffe and the end of the war at .325. But this of course orphans the .110 reference, other than it might be a rough reference to start of the Vega Campaign as a 'whole'.

He took an active role in the Vega Campaign when wingmen Carl T. LaFong, Jason Armstrong, and Christopher Blair joined the roster.[11] He quickly became friends with them and they each served on several missions together in places including the Dakota System.

On 2654.282, Knight went on patrol near Kurasawa IV with his wingman Lightning. They were ambushed by a force of Grathas during the mission and even though Knight survived, Lightning did not. The incident saddened Knight, who wished they had the more competent F-44 Rapier II to fly with.[12] Knight also saw action in the Venice System, where the Kilrathi Sector HQ was destroyed, effectively winning the Vega Sector for the Confederation.

Operation Thor's HammerEdit

Eventually, Knight was transferred to the Black Lions Squadron, which flew The Rapier II Knight and so many other pilots admired. After the Goddard Colony was destroyed, Knight took part in Operation: Thor's Hammer, the Terran operation to destroy the fleet that annihilated the planet. Knight was increasingly uncomfortable with flying blindly into Kilrathi territory, until he had to fly as Omicron Wing to anticipate Kilrathi forces that approached the Claw.[13]. Halcyon deployed several strike wings from two locations to attack the KIS Sivar (with pilots including Carl T. LaFong, Christopher Blair, Jason Armstrong and others). He became one of several victors of the operation when he and LaFong helped to destroy the KIS Sivar, which carried the weapon that destroyed the colony.[14][15]

Firekka CampaignEdit

During 2655, the Confederation oversaw the induction of the Firekkans into the Terran Confederation as equal citizens.

Captain Khumalo attended the funeral of Puma from the TCS Austin. After the ceremony he sat with Bossman and Hunter in the Rec Room, but before they could drink a beer, the intercom system called for them to the flight deck; the Fralthi-class KIS Ras Nik'hra announced its defection and pilots left in solo patrols to locate it and escort it back to the Claw.[16]

By the next week Kilrathi presence increased until Peter Halcyon ordered more frequent and intense patrols. That day Knight had to shook Hunter and pull his blanket off to force him go to duty, although he was kind enough to bring him a cup of coffee from the wardroom while Hunter was dressing. He was assigned with Hunter as Epsilon Wing, with the orders to stay close to the Claw in the usual defensive patrol. He joked to Hunter that they are assigned the boring mission because of Hunter's messy appearance.[7]

As they were preparing to laungh, Hunter was taking too long and Knight was looking for him; mistakenly he set the loudspeaker frequence and his voice boomed out over the flight deck PA, startling everybody, and embarassing Hunter who was trying to arrange a date with technician Janet McCullough. As per their orders they performed a boring diamond configuration patrol 5000 klicks out, broken only by Knight's remarks that Hunter should be more serious about hir job.[7]

That day, it was decided that the Claw should withdraw from the system and assist the Firekkans. Knight flew with Iceman as Alpha Wing in preparation of the retreat.[7]

In order to find out what lies behind an apparent Kilrathi invasion to the system, Prankster and Knight flew F-44 Rapier IIs as Epsilon Wing and discovered a new Snakeir-class with an escort of the new experimental Hhriss.[17]

Worrying of the upcoming invasion, Prankster and Knight flew again as Epsilon Wing. They escorted and protected the Diplomatic Corps ships TCS U Thant and TCS Trygvie Lie on their way jumping out of the system.

During this time, Knight was approached by Peter Halcyon with an offer from Confed HQ to retire from active duty and to become a flight instructor for future pilots.[18] Ultimately, Knight rejected the offer to continue service on the Claw, and during the Defense of Firekka when the Kilrathi invaded the planet.[19]

He and his wingmen ensured that the Terran marines sent to disrupt the ground invasion made it to the planet's surface alive. Knight then retreated from Firekka when the Kilrathi swarmed the system along with his comrades, but fortunately the Firekkans reclaimed their planet from the invaders.

Knight continued to serve on the Claw into the early days of the Enigma Campaign.

During the year 2656, the Claw was sent on a mission to destroy the Kilrathi Sector HQ at K'tithrak Mang, in an attempt to liberate the Enigma Sector. Unfortunately, the Claw was destroyed while en route. Since Knight refused his instructor's commission, he was surely present on the Claw or on patrol at the time of its destruction. His death was sad experience for Christopher Blair.[20]

A dialogue in Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi suggests that he died along with the rest of the crew onboard the Tiger's Claw when it was destroyed in the Enigma Sector.[21] This dialogue appears in a non-canon scenario.


Paladin and knight

Paladin with Knight

Knight would be found in the Claw Rec Room eating. His name was recorded among the top scores of the TrainSim.[22] Hunter believed that Knight gave justice to his callsign, acting like a knight and a gentleman. [7]

Knight was known for his willingness to associate with the other pilots and was a very well-balanced wingman. Contrary to the opinions of fellow pilot Michael Casey, he believed the aging CF-105 Scimitar Medium Fighter to be a reliable and durable craft, thanks namely to its thicker durasteel armor. He preferred heavy armor over speed, which Casey preferred.[23]

Considering himself a just soldier, not a talented genius, he has a reputation of utter reliability in combat and supported wingmen who were in difficult situations.[1][8] However some pilots consider him unsafe as a "pacifist".[24]

He was well-liked by his peers, respected by his superiors, well-known throught the Claw, and a popular partner in the team exercises. He gave consideration to the advice of others, admitted his mistakes and his opinions were respectable. As a pilot he had a personal affinity for bombing missions.[8]

Paul Gerald attributed his low kill score to hesitation to kill for personal or philosophical reasons, which would hinder his promotion and even entrusting him with command decisions.[8]

Appearances or mentionsEdit

Behind the scenesEdit

WC1 VDU Knight

This character is only known as "Knight" in the movie credits. He is only referred to as Mr. Knight in one scene, and never by name; "Steady on course, Mr. Knight." Though he appears in several scenes (in which Knight can be seen on his Name Tag/Helmet). The fact that Knight appears on his nametag (which is usually reserved for surnames) would suggest that Knight is his last name, and also explain the "Mr. Knight" reference in a literal sense.

Knight's name is mispelled "Kuhmelo in the Handbook. It is correctly spelled Joseph Khumalo in the Wing Commander: The Movie (novel), and he is given the same backstory as that from Claw Marks, and is intended to be the same character.


Knight's bomber is destroyed and he is presumed killed in the movie and movie novels. Like Kien Chen he appears alive later for the Vega Campaign.

Pilgrim Truth establishes that extrakinetics such as Pilgrims or others mutant humans may be able to develop the ability to project themselves in more place than one, not create clones per se but create doubles, multiples of dopplegangers each physically existing and each part of the whole. This is used to explain how one pilot Mango is able to attack Christopher Blair's fighter from the inside. Some believe he had died, but Blair believes he has seen him elsewhere. Blair suggests extrakinetics as an explanation of him being in more than one place at once as well as appearing to die, but not actually dieing, and coming back later. He points this out as a theory, but has no way of knowing if it really would happen. This ability may be both natural instinct or even controllable. Also adding the ability to project these individual beings into other places (sort of like teleportation) This appears to be a nod to the fans speculations about dead or disappearing characters coming back; to offer an explanation to a number of characters with similar discrepancies such as Knight, Kien Chen, Shamus and Delli Taggart, etc (it could even apply to Blair's "disappearance" during the Nephilim War allowing the possibility for his return, as he shows the ability to pull it off in the book).

Or as seen best in the Blueray of the film, his pod jettisoned and escaped the blast, but was un-detected during all the commotion of the battle (but would have had to have been picked up by something other than the Tiger's Claw).

When Knight is killed in the first game, the following words are dedicated to him:

"Sadly, we must now say goodbye to Captain Joseph Khumalo. Despite the pressures of the war we fight, Captain Khumalo was always unaffected by the madness around him. He remained an island of stability for us, in a sea of insanity."
Peter Halcyon
"Don't worry, Knight. We'll finish the job for you."
"We must now say goodbye to Captain Joseph Khumalo. Knight was always looking to give support and assistance whether he was in the cockpit or aboard ship. His rock-solid attitude was a pillar of strength for all of us."
Peter Halcyon
"Farewell, Knight. I will always remember you."


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Claw Marks (Wing Commander I box package), Pilot Profiles
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Wing Commander film
  3. Peter Telep, Wing Commander, ch. {{{1}}}
  4. Freedom Flight
  5. Chris McCubbin, Official Authorized Wing Commander Confederation Handbook, Bi-Annual Pilot Evaluation: Lt. Joseph Kuhmelo (callsign Knight)
  6. SNES Secret Missions manual, pg 19
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon, Freedom Flight, Chapter 6
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Chris McCubbin, Official Authorized Wing Commander Confederation Handbook, Bi-Annual Pilot Evaluation: Lt. Joseph Kuhmelo (callsign Knight)
  9. WC Movie Novel
  10. Pilgrim Truth
  11. Star*Soldier, 26
  12. Wing Commander I, Kurasawa series (Mission 2)
  13. Wing Commander I, Vigrid series (Mission 1)
  14. Wing Commander I, Vigrid series (Mission 2)
  15. Star*Soldier, 26
  16. Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon, Freedom Flight, Chapter 4
  17. Wing Commander I, Firekka series (Mission b1)
  18. Wing Commander I, Firekka series (Mission b2)
  19. Wing Commander I, Corsair series (Mission b2)
  20. WC3 novel, Chapter 1
  21. Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Gwynedd series (Mission L3)
  22. Wing Commander I
  23. Wing Commander I, McAuliffe series (Mission 1)
  24. Wing Commander I, Dakota series (Mission 1)