So here it is, another year coming to a close. 2011 gets ushered away as another 365 days turn towards 2012. For us at flightcontrols.org, we are looking forward to reaching our one-year online birthday soon. To round of the year here is the unofficial guide to the best flight joystick of 2011.
Best Flight Joystick 2011
2011 was an interesting year; it saw the release of a couple dual throttle HOTAS controllers by both Saitek and Thrustmaster. Saitek also put extra overtime and greatly expanded their own pro flight range. Much to the welcome cheers and loving embrace of civil aviation sim pilots everywhere. The other big player CH products was a little bit quiet this time around however rumours of a retail release of their dual split throttle controller keeps everyone waiting to see how 2012 will turn out.
2011 Best Flight Joystick
Without a doubt this year’s best flight joystick 2011 is the most exciting, most expensive and most sought after flight joystick of 2011. Modeled faithfully after an A-10C this joystick was released in perfect time to coincide with DCS A-10C own new flight simulator release this year. Without a doubt the most expensive HOTAS package you can currently buy setting you back at a cool $450 MSRP. Although the release of the warthog was not without its fair share of teething problems, such as firmware bricks and quality issues, in an industry where flight controllers are released far and few between the Thrustmaster Warthog gave you unrivaled realism and immersion… as long as you had the coin to spend.
Recommended Flight Simulator:
2011 Flight Stick Runner-up
Although by most accounts this joystick was pretty average it had one trick up its sleeve. It was the only force sensing joystick that you could buy on the market. Although it takes some getting used to it, some flyers swear by it. With force sensing, the joystick of the Saitek X65F did not move rather it detected subtle shifts force to translate that into virtual joystick movements. Interesting? Yes, good? You’ll have to try and see.
Other Honourable Mentions
Saitek’s Pro Flight Range
Boy have Saitek been busy this year. Not only having a runner up to the best flight joystick 2011 it almost seems as though every month is created by Saitek releasing a flight panel, throttle unit, backlit panel or Cessna endorsed peripheral. For the casual flight simulator fans this has been great news as a means you can now buy an autopilot panel for as cheap as 100 bucks. Previously your only options was to spend serious money ($200+) or break out the toolbox and build one yourself.
Saitek’s rudder controllers
Saitek have now released three flight rudder pedals, which is great because previously the only other option was the smaller CH rudder pedals. I personally own the Saitek Pro Flight combat rudder pedals, with the metal toe-breaks, adjustable tension and wide pedal placements I can place my feet comfortable apart for a center mounted joystick. The most enjoyable purchase of the year.
The Saitek X 52 pro still stands as the perfect entry-level HOTAS gear and every year that goes by the kit actually gets cheaper, a solid recommendation for those who are hesitant to spend $450 on the Thrustmaster Warthog, for a more affordable $100.
For those who are looking at an alternative to the Thrustmaster warthog, you can buy a CH Products fighterstick together with a CH Products pro throttle for about two thirds the price. However you lose out on dual split throttles, a two-stage trigger and metal construction as CH products use plastic, albeit very durable ABS plastic.
On the software side, everybody’s still waiting for Microsoft to release their next iteration of their venerable flight simulator however if you are into combat simulators than releases by DCS and IL-2 will keep you happy.
Recommended Flight Simulators: