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Memory Alpha
Academy trainer craft near Titan

Nova Squadron over Titan, secretly attempting a Kolvoord Starburst

"Five ships crossing within ten meters of each other and igniting their plasma trails. It's one of the most spectacular and difficult demonstrations in precision flying. And it hasn't been performed at the Academy for over 100 years; do you know why?"
"It was banned by the Academy following a training accident, sir."
"An accident in which all five cadets lost their lives."

A Kolvoord Starburst was a dangerously complex flight maneuver performed by light spacecraft, considered one of the most spectacular feats of precision flying. A wrong move during the maneuver, even a slight one, could lead to a catastrophic collision.

The maneuver was performed by five light spacecraft flying in a circular formation, following with them crossing within ten meters of each other and flying off in the opposite direction, while opening their coolant interlocks and igniting their plasma trails as they make the crossover. When done successfully, the maneuver created a spectacular light pattern resembling a five-pointed star.


Starfleet Academy banned the Kolvoord Starburst in the 2260s following a training accident in which all five cadets attempting the maneuver were killed. In 2368, however, Nova Squadron, an elite group of cadets led by Nicholas Locarno, conspired to perform it at the end of the academic year in order to impress the guests attending the commencement demonstration, despite Joshua Albert and Wesley Crusher attempting to protest that it was banned for a reason and that they needed an unfeasible amount of training. During a clandestine practice session near Titan, Albert lost control of his craft and caused a collision that resulted in the destruction of all five craft. Albert was killed, while the others were rescued via emergency transporter. Locarno, afraid of what would happen if the accident's cause came to light, pressured his surviving teammates into lying about what had happened and blaming Albert alone.

During the inquiry into the incident, the crew of the USS Enterprise-D ran simulations of the flight and correctly surmised that the cadets were attempting the maneuver, rather than the one on the approved flight plan. Captain Jean-Luc Picard confronted Cadet Crusher, a former member of the Enterprise crew, about their findings but Crusher refused to answer.

Without direct evidence, the board ruled that the accident was due to pilot error on Albert's part. At the last minute, however, Crusher admitted to the full truth – that they were indeed attempting the Starburst and that Albert had confessed that he didn't feel ready but the others pressured him into performing.

The entire squad faced expulsion but Locarno, as team leader, took full responsibility for their actions and was the only one expelled. The other survivors received severe academic consequences and had to repeat a year, but were allowed to continue their studies and graduate. (TNG: "The First Duty", "Lower Decks"' LD: "Old Friends, New Planets")

Nova Fleet emblem

Locarno's emblem

In 2381, Locarno utilized the Kolvoord Starburst as a logo for Nova Fleet; on his jacket, the ships he captured, and his communication devices, which displayed the symbol when a call ended. By this time, he had come to feel that Nova Squadron would have succeeded had the Academy professors allowed them to practice more. Ironically, when he was killed by a Ferengi Genesis Device, the resulting explosion emitted the Kolvoord Starburst in the process of creating planet Locarno. (LD: "The Inner Fight", "Old Friends, New Planets")

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