The Saitek Pro Flight Yoke System bundles everything you need to get started flying into one convenient package. If you ever read other reviews, you may have heard of course about the phantom keystroke problem… Does this issue put an end to it all?
For me, the saitek pro flight yoke system or any yoke really such as the (ch products eclipse yoke) really gives me the feeling that I am flying a Cessna or Boeing. If you fly an airbus then you can stick to your fighter joystick! I prefer the almost intuitive motion you get only when flying behind the yoke of a plane. I think the reason why many flight simmers, (like myself) have moved on to and tried a yoke setup is that the Saitek are one of the few to actually make yoke that uses a sturdy steel shaft. They are even kind enough to throw in separate throttle quadrants for free. Instead of a single throttle design which most joysticks tend to have, you now have the true option of controlling both throttle, pitch and mixture without having to reach for the keyboard.
The advantages of using a steel shaft compared to the usual plastic are many. The biggest change is the feel you get while moving the yoke around. Other yokes might use plastic in their design but by using steel shafts and higher quality bearings you will get a much more fluid and responsive control. Like all good flight controllers, the saitek pro flight yoke system has on board a host of other switches and buttons that come with some programmability and allow you to change the exact button assignments to whatever you are most comfortable with.
The saitek pro flight yoke system attaches to your desk simply and securely using a screw type clamping system. Which for most people is not going to be a real hassle, but if you have a computer desk with a slide in keyboard drawer you might find that you don’t have enough clearance on the desk itself to mount the yoke. Your option is to clamp it your keyboard drawer or to use a different desk (sucks I know). However since its a yolk and not a joystick it is unavoidable that the unit has to be secured to avoid it sliding around as you push horizontally on the yoke.The yoke and quadrant controls plugs into your computer using simple USB. If you are using other flight devices such as rudders or instrument panels you may need to purchase an additional usb hub so that you have room for everything to plugin in to. Nothing worse than having to unplug a mouse or keyboard to plug in your rudders.
The saitek pro flight yoke system has fourteen reprogrammable buttons that allow you to assign a variety of actions to them (more than you will need). You should be able to have a keyboard hands free flight experience. Which you will need as real pilots fly one hand on the yoke and another hand on the throttle. Additionally of course you get a pov hat switch (get IR Track already), three axis levers on the quadrant and a three position mode switch.
The Phantom Keystroke Problem
It had been reported both on Amazon and even on Saitek’s forum itself that the saitek pro flight yoke system has a problem with phantom keystrokes. What is this? Here is a direct to you account of one users experience with the product.
And then … coming into O’Hare and I hear the jet panel voice begin the “500 above” … “400 above” … suddenly from nowhere comes from the aircraft I was flying, “LANDING GEAR UP PLEASE!” … say WHAT? You guessed it, the “random phantom key press” issue! SAITEK admitted on their own forum that this was a SAITEK yoke factory defect issue [see that forum AND Amazon user comments right here!] . You’ll be flying along but when the yoke is turned [or straight ahead for that matter!], things begin to happen on their own! Hence the name “phantom key press” ! The landing gear can go up and down BY ITSELF or normally hat switch activated aircraft views begin to cycle by themselves without any input whatsoever by the user! A decided defect! Worse, SAITEK says some yokes are affected, others perhaps not! That really helps, yes? Sure!
In a nutshell while you are flying the yoke starts to send all sorts of phantom keys to your flight sim. No doubt a big problem. However as of now, Saitek have admitted a problem and they have basically stated that,
- The phantom keypress problem affects all the first production run of the Model PZ44 Pro Flight Yoke System.
- This has been fixed with a new firmware update.
- Only older products with a serial number below 491277 are affected.
- Flight simmers with affected units should contact Saitek Tech Support and arrange for an immediate replacement.
Saitek is on their game and I find their technical support and warranty to be really spot on. In fact if you purchase through amazon and you do happen to get a defective unit Amazon will generally ship out am advanced replacement in a day or two.
However, none of this should really matter since this problem was reported back in 2007! it is now 2011 which means plenty of time for Saitek to work out all the driver and manufacturing gremlins out of the saitek pro flight yoke system.
Saitek PZ44 Features
Precision. Realism. Control. The saitek pro flight yoke system is highly engineered to meet the exacting needs of the true flight simulation enthusiast. Stainless steel shaft, ergonomic controls, integrated chronograph, and separate throttle quadrant ensure a smooth, accurate and totally realistic flying experience.
- Durable stainless steel shaft with precision bearings gives smooth and predictable elevator and aileron control
- Used with the supplied SST Programming software, integrated mode switch trebles the number of controls you have at your fingertips
- Accurately time each leg of your flight plan with the integrated chronograph
- Separate throttle quadrant with additional switches to configure any combination of throttle, flaps, mixture or prop pitch. Mount on top, in front of your desk, pilot or co-pilot side so that the controls are exactly where you want them
- Unique, 2-position desk clamp keeps your yoke and quadrant securely fixed no matter how extreme the flying conditions
- Use the integrated USB Hub to easily connect other parts of the Saitek Pro Flight range of products, such as additional Pro Flight Throttle Quadrant or Pro Flight Instrument Panel (both sold separately)
- Saitek’s powerful Saitek Smart Technology (SST) programming software allows gamers to configure their controls to suit their preferred gaming style, and to save the configurations as personal profiles
- POV Hat, 14 button controls, and 3-position mode switch
- Stainless steel yoke shaft and 2-position clamp
- Comes with separate three axis lever throttle
- Integrated 3-port USB 2.0 Hub
- XP, Vista and Windows 7 compatible
Saitek Pro Flight Yoke System Review
Apart from the phantom key press debacle early on in its release, the saitek pz44 is the only real competitor to the older but still venerable CH Products Flight Yoke. However, a common concerned raised on the forums and in reviews is the harsh centering of the yoke and the large deadzone on the yoke that requires a larger deflection before movements are picked up. Unfortunately even with the metal steel shaft and bearings, the overall fluidity and ease of movement is not a whole lot better than CH’s offerings.
If you are sick of CH products than the saitek is a reasonable replacement, otherwise the next level of flight yokes will have you stepping up to the real enthusiast level and spending enthusiast level amounts of cash, $500 and upwards.
The flight yoke looks fantastic, saitek know how to produce sexy looking flight controllers. The addition of a separate throttle quadrant is also a welcome addition. The CH flight yoke has tiny throttle knobs located awkwardly on the flight yoke it self. If you have the space to mount all the hardware, the saitek flight yoke offering is a welcome addition to a CH dominated market, everyone loves more competition.
Check out what this user had to say about the saitek pz44:
S. Kuprianczyk, (reprahased for word count)
Well I just did some research on this yoke and discovered that saitek has resolved the phantom keystroke issue. New replacement units are shipping to all US distributors. If you happen to have a defective unit, per a post on Saitek’s forum, owners are to call 310-972-9930 for return/replacement instructions. I am going to order one myself but am not sure if Amazon has the new units yet. saitek refused to post a current serial number of the defective lot but a person on the forums said that he just got his and is working flawlessly with a serial number of SZ005111624. This person with a “good” unit purchased his thru Newegg in CA. Well I am going to place my order now and I will post an update when I get it up and running. UPDATE: I received the yoke and pedals three days ago and after spending an hour or so configuring the unit I fired it up. The SN# I received was 00492657 a call to tech support assured me that I had a unit that had the phantom key stroke problem resolved. I spent about a total of 20 hours flying around in several planes which included single engine cessna’s all the way up to the heavy 747. I WAS NOT ABLE TO FIND ANY PROBLEMS WITH MY YOKE. I was very impressed with the quality and performance. I took a gamble but in my case I think it payed off. Also for anyone wondering if this yoke works with a mac don’t worry. I hooked the yoke up to my mac and am running xplane ver.9. The drivers were not needed it was simply plug n play. Xplane recognized the yoke and throttles with no problem. It was very simple to program. I hope this helps.
Saitek Pro Flight Yoke System Resources
- Saitek: Instructions on how to configure the yoke to work with FSX
- Wikipedia: Yoke on planes
- Saitek: Product manuals
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