Everything You Need To Know Before Taking To The Skies With A Flight Stick

Everything You Need To Know Before Taking To The Skies With A Flight Stick
Image: Bandai Namco Entertainment
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Do you consider yourself to be an ace pilot? Are you only ever happy unless you’re going Mach-2 with your hair on fire? Have you been taking regular trans-Atlantic flight sim trips? Then it might be time to ditch your controller or keyboard and get your wings with a flight stick.

Here’s everything you need to know before buying a flight stick, along with a few suggestions to help you take to the skies.

What do you need to know before buying a fight stick?

flight stick
Image: Microsoft Flight Simulator

What does HOTAS mean?

If you’ve done some of your homework already, there’s a high chance you’ve encountered the term “HOTAS”. This is just an acronym that means means “Hands On Throttle-And-Stick”, and is used to describe joysticks and throttle levers that have incorporated buttons and switches into their design. Ideally, the pilot will be able to reach all of these inputs without removing their hands from the flight stick or lever.

What controllers do you need?

So how accurate do you want your home cockpit to be? Are you fine with a single joystick or do you want the whole kit and caboodle (BYO tiny packet of peanuts)?

If you’re working to a budget or just want something basic, a single joystick should serve you well. Depending on how dedicated you are to recreating a cockpit – and how much you’re willing to spend – some flight sticks will also include a throttle control system. In most cases, flight controls use a joystick, although some have a yoke control (aka a plane steering wheel).

But the controllers don’t stop there, oh no. You can also pick up a set of pedals that can be used to control the plane’s rudder, along with an autopilot system.

Everything You Need To Know Before Taking To The Skies With A Flight Stick
Image: Bandai Namco Entertainment

How much space do you have?

This depends on how complex you want your cockpit set up to be. A single joystick obviously isn’t going to eat up much space, but if your PC desk is already tight on space, then you might have some issues as you add in additional controllers. Some flight sticks and throttle levels can be clipped onto the edge of your desk, so they won’t move around while you’re using them.

When it comes to playing flight sims on a console, there’s no harm in cradling a joystick in your lap but you’ll get more support by resting it on a table. Depending on your room setup, you might need to rearrange some furniture to accommodate. Just make sure the table is at an appropriate height, so you won’t bust your back from hunching over.

What are you willing to spend?

While there are plenty of games that can more than validate grabbing a racing wheel or fight pad, the options for flight stick compatibility runs a little bit narrower. Let’s face it, you’re most likely going to use it for Microsoft Flight Simulator or Ace Combat. This is fine, of course, but it really helps to budget out what you want beforehand.

Most basic joysticks will set you back around $100, which isn’t too bad. However, as the replica accuracy of the flight stick increases and/or it gains more comprehensive controls, the individual prices also start to ramp up. A mid-range stick will set you back somewhere in the $200 to $300 mark, while you can easily spend $500 on a high-tier controller.

When you factor in the number of different controllers that you could add to your flight set-up, you can easily spend a few hundred dollars kitting out your home cockpit.

What fight sticks do we recommend for PC?

Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick

Everything You Need To Know Before Taking To The Skies With A Flight Stick
Image: Logitech
  • Included controllers: Joystick.
  • Recommended for: Beginners or those buying on a budget.
  • Anything else worth knowing: The controller base for this Logitech flight stick houses 12 fully programmable buttons, so you can easily set custom hotkeys.
  • Where to buy it: Amazon Australia ($67) | Catch ($89) | Mwave ($69)

Logitech G X56 HOTAS Throttle and Flight Stick Controller

logitech g pro flight x56 stick
Image: Logitech
  • Included controllers: Joystick, throttle lever.
  • Recommended for: Those looking for something a bit more advanced than a basic joystick, mid-range enthusiasts.
  • Anything else worth knowing: If you love customisable inputs, this flight stick and throttle lever include 189 programmable buttons. Despite the number of controls, the Logitech G X56 is easy to master and comfortable to use.
  • Where to buy it: Amazon Australia ($329) | eBay ($398) | Mwave ($329)

Logitech G Pro Flight Yoke System

Everything You Need To Know Before Taking To The Skies With A Flight Stick
Image: Logitech
  • Included controllers: Yoke controls, throttle lever.
  • Recommended for: Those looking for a non-joystick flight controller and simple interfaces. Pilots who mainly want to fly commercial jetliners in their flight sims.
  • Anything else worth knowing: Both the yoke and throttle level need to be clamped to a desk edge, so make sure you’ve got adequate space.
  • Where to buy it: Amazon Australia ($251.90) | JB Hi-Fi ($350) | Logitech ($349.95)

ThrustMaster HOTAS Warthog Flight Stick

thrustmaster hotas warthog flight stick
Image: ThrustMaster
  • Included controllers: Joystick.
  • Recommended for: People who can afford to fly first-class every time, people who can recite the Top Gun script in their sleep.
  • Anything else worth knowing: This sturdy joystick is a replica of the flight stick used in an A-10C attack aircraft, making it a great option for getting as close to the real thing. There’s also a complimentary Warthog throttle lever, although that will cost you extra.
  • Where to buy it: Amazon Australia ($549.95) | Catch ($549) | eBay ($568.95) | The Gamesmen ($549.95)
flight stick
Image: Microsoft Flight Simulator

What flight sticks do we recommend for PS4/PS5?

ThrustMaster T-Flight HOTAS One Joystick

Everything You Need To Know Before Taking To The Skies With A Flight Stick
Image: ThrustMaster
  • Included controllers: Joystick, throttle lever.
  • Recommended for: Flight stick options for consoles are very limited, but this ThrustMaster controller is compatible with both the PS4 and PS5.
  • Anything else worth knowing: The joystick and throttle lever can be separated and used as a single unit. The joystick also uses a dual rudder system that replicates the vertical axis pedals of a plane.
  • Where to buy it: Amazon Australia ($142.10) | Catch ($99) | The Gamesmen (139.95)

What flight sticks do we recommend for Xbox?

ThrustMaster T-Flight HOTAS One Joystick

Everything You Need To Know Before Taking To The Skies With A Flight Stick
Image: ThrustMaster
  • Included controllers: Joystick, throttle lever.
  • Recommended for: Flight stick options for consoles are very limited, but this ThrustMaster controller is compatible with both the Xbox One and Series X/S.
  • Anything else worth knowing: The joystick and throttle lever can be separated and used as a single unit. The joystick also uses a dual rudder system that replicates the vertical axis pedals of a plane.
  • Where to buy it: Amazon Australia ($146.90) | eBay ($149) | JB Hi-Fi ($149) | Mighty Ape ($141)

Comments

  • Nearly all of these sticks are hot garbage.

    Even the venerable t16 doesn’t get a mention.

    I’m about as close as gamers can get to ace pilot, having held the star citizen “pro” community in impotent nerd rage for the better part of the last decade.

    This looks like a Web crawl of the latest jbhifi and mwave listing’s, followed by a fair bit of copy paste reword, thereafter for “review”.

    VKB has opened an Australian store, and I personally use two of them (dual sticks and yes, lefties you can buy a fully featured left stick), which are the only sticks suitable for a game like Star Citizen. Excluding the warthog (which I own) none of these garbage kits would last a week in SC.

    Virpil is another premium brand that has been making waves in the past few years.

    This article isn’t just for beginners, it’s a guide on to how to get started with the return authorisation process.

    Bad journalist, BAD.

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