- "That sky. That sky, right there. It was mine. I had it all in the palm of my hand. There was nobody who could fly as fast or as high as I could. That sky was mine for a beautiful moment... but the truth is, I belonged to that sky. And I always will."
- —Shane Hale
Shane Hale, callsign Trickster, is a mercenary ace who turned the tide of the Anean Uprising, flying for the Osean Federation under the mercenary group Calamity Haven. He is the main protagonist of Ace Combat: Sky's Edge.
Not much is known about Shane's history. However, he is apparently one of the best pilots on record to come out of the Osean Air Force Academy. Some time after graduating and becoming a pilot for the Osean Air Defense Force, he was contracted to become a mercenary pilot for Calamity Haven.
Inside the cockpit of a fighter, Shane is a determined, focused and relentless pilot. He is calm and collected in almost all situations, and he has shown a remarkable ability to operate efficiently under extreme stress. He is somewhat of a loner, and prefers to do things is own way. As such, he is oftentimes at odds with his squadron or command, as he has shown a habit of disobeying orders during missions, and can sometimes be difficult to rally back into line. He has a tendency to feel more at peace when in the sky, stemming from his love of flying since an early age. He tends not to talk much and keeps to himself, even during missions. When unable to fly, he can get restless, and is always eager to get back in the cockpit for anything ranging from dangerous missions to training flights.
He has also shown to be a bit mischievous in combat, regularly using tactics that confuse and disorient his opponents, giving him a unique tactical advantage even against the most experienced ace pilots. It's from this trait that he earned his callsign of Trickster.
Shane's abilities in the air are unmatched by almost all other pilots on record. He has been compared to the mercenary ace pilot Cipher of The Belkan War, due to them both possessing unmatched combat ability and being mercenary pilots. Shane possesses almost inhuman perception and coordination, able to multitask to an abnormal degree while still keeping a high situational awareness level, allowing him to operate the Flight Integrated Support System on the ASX-123 Arondight. Shane's reflexes are also abnormally high, allowing him to quickly assess a situation and react in the correct way instinctively. His combat style in the air seems to be random and disorganized, making his movements extremely difficult to predict. Though his movements may seem to be random, they are actually intentional and meant to confuse and disorient opponents, allowing him to manipulate the opponent into getting into the perfect position to be struck out of the sky. This unique flying style earned him his nickname and callsign of Trickster.
A signature maneuver of his involves making his aircraft "drift" in the air, a maneuver now known as the Sigma Air Drift. This is achieved through pulling back on the throttle hard and pushing the nose to the side, before quickly straightening out the aircraft into a diagonal slide. This allows Shane to effectively slide into turns, as well as to aim directly at targets to either side of him without changing his forward movement too much. This is easier done in certain aircraft, such as the F-22A and especially the ASX-123, but was first performed in an F-15C. Other maneuvers that he specializes with are extreme low flying, as low as under 20 feet off the ground, weaving in between obstacles, and straight nosedives. He is also experienced in more advanced maneuvers, such as the Herbst maneuver and Kulbit, and has been known to throw his own spin on such maneuvers, such as firing missiles or guns backwards mid-Kulbit, or spinning his aircraft during a Pugachev's Cobra.
His ability has been evaluated to be as skilled as an entire squadron, leading to Fenrir Squadron taking an interest in recruiting him, as well as certain other mercenary groups or PMCs.