Sign up using a referral link: For most of the year there is some sort of promotion where both you and the person you invite get a bonus: Currently the bonus is a ship!
Use my promo link: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/enlist?referral=STAR-VZF6-9RBT to create an account. This is free and enables you to fly during the free fly events throughout the year even if you don’t buy a game pack yet. There are two major free fly events in May and in November that usually last 10-12 days and let you fly a wide range of ships for free during the event.
When you decide to buy a game pack, head to the pledge store and add a game package ship to the cart:
Cutter, Avenger Titan, CX8 Pisces, Nomad, Cutlass, or Freelancer are great choices because you can do all sorts of missions with them. Arrow, Hornet, and 100i are good too, but don’t pick Aurora or Mustang. The other options are significantly better. I would get the Titan or Pisces as top 2 contenders for best starter ship.
Most ships can be purchased with in game currency, but if you want it in your hanger from the start you have to buy it from the pledge store. One nice thing is that you can exchange your purchases for store credits and buy something else if you get bored and want to try out a different ship between free fly events. You do needs game package ship to play, but you can upgrade that game pack to a more expensive ship if you find one you really enjoy.
Ships are sold on a rotating basis so a particular ship might not be in the pledge store, but they will all be there during the November free fly and ship sale event. The May free fly and ship sale event is military themed so while it does have a ton of ships available, it is not the full selection as it is in November.