I have been experimenting with a free space variant of the fixed hex based movement system, using what I call "Hex Plot Tiles" or HPTs.
The system can be a tad startling when you are used to "reading" the fixed hex patterns on the map all the time and its key benefit is that it introduces a slight element of experimentation and uncertainty to the manoeuvre you are about to execute, giving flight a more organic "by the seat of you pants" feel.
More piloting skill is required to line up that really perfect shot, that you can take for granted with fixed grids.
It's method is simple.
Using an aircraft base as a trace template, you get yourself some heavy card in a different color to the hexless surface you are playing on.
Trace around the base to make a hex outline on the card and cut out that shape.
You will need about 12 to 15 for the table for everyone to use.
When moving, the tiles are used by the player to form and plot the larger pattern allowed by their aircraft, by matching the hex tiles from the flat face of the aircraft base, then branching out across the free space like "stepping stones" that form the aircraft flight pattern in the coming move.
If you like, special tiles may also be labeled indicating the point along the hex tile transit that you intend to perform a difficult move.
Failure of the move simply results in a normal hex tile branch moving off from that point if you fail.
Using this method, larger range templates can also be made.
With the aircraft all starting in the same forward orientation, surprisingly with the same careful attention to facing as is employed in the fixed grid method, very little is lost using this system.
I has an almost Wings of War or X wing feel to it and is just another way to challenge yourself as a tabletop pilot