A pilot leads the way. An aircraft pilot flies a plane, and a maritime pilot steers a ship. Also, to pilot is to guide to safety, like to navigate a ship out of a harbor or through a sea of zombies.
Pilot comes from the Greek pēdon meaning "oar." Like an oar that steers a ship, a pilot steers or directs a plane. A pilot can also be a model or basis for others of its kind. A school might launch a pilot breakfast program for a few students before introducing it to the whole school. The pilot episode of a TV show is like a test program produced to determine viewer interest before making a whole season.