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Flight Controls Where To Start Beginner Guide

Flight Controls Where To Start Beginner Guide

Flight controls are one of the first things I remember looking for when I started my foray into flight simming. Although you could play MS FSX purely using a keyboard and a mouse… I doubt you would find the experience very engrossing or very enlightening after no more than 5 mins.

Flight simming is a strange hobby, you can start of small and before you know it you start looking at people who have gone beyond just a joystick and moved onto building realistic flight decks. Wow. Check out some of these videos of people who have turned their living room into a professional almost 100% realistic training cockpit.

Simply amazing, I have almost lost half a good productive day looking at all the videos of other home cockpits and checking out what flight controls they have bought and how they how they connect it all together.

But I digress, the fun is in the process and as an avid flight simmer, you and I start with the basics and as our interest and skill increases so do our hardware. Even if I could wave my magical wand and wish in a home cockpit into your lounge room, your interest and awe would no sooner turn to utter frustration and dismay as you realize flying a plane (especially a 767) is not a one day pick up and play hobby.


How to increase the realism of your home cockpit

  1. The first thing on your check list, assuming you already have a flight simulator, is to buy a joystick. The most important of all flight controls on a plane. Your choices are limited to
    • Joystick: The ones that are avaialble almost at any retail store from about $30 to $100s if you want to spend up. Most of the times, these are modeled of fighter jets. A real good all rounder joystick to start with. If you like to play some fighter sims that the universal addition of a trigger would make you happy. Also joysticks work just as well on helicopter sims.
    • Flight Yoke: Your true traditional, in plane flight controls transported from the cock pit to your lounge room.If you have decided that civil aviation is more your thing, than a yoke gives you the most realism. A yoke is held kinda like a steering wheel and has to be mounted on to a desk. A Joystick can sit quite comfortably without any mounts on a desk on the other hand.

The most important tip when buying flight controls I would have, is too buy the most expensive joystick/yoke you can afford. You truly get what you pay for, and a smooth and reliable action is what you want. Cheap joysticks may not last long and out of the box centering problems and large dead zones will detract from the overall flying experience. Like a wise woman once said,

Buy cheap buy again, buy good buy once!

Similarly if you are moreĀ  a casual gamer, force feedback adds a level of enjoyment, however I personally prefer that my joystick doesn’t have that. My experience is that force feedback is not as durable, and after a while the stick can have trouble centering and starts to develop an annoying slack.

2. Rudders. The hardest part of flying a plane is co-coordinating your turns. You can probably get away with a joystick that rotates at the base to control the rudder, but after a while if you really want to raise the realism up you need to invest in a pair of rudder pedals.

3. Other Misc Gadgets: Depending on what kind of planes you like to fly, there are a lot of radio stacks, switch panels and the like which you can add on to take the realism up a notch.

4. Consider another 2 monitors, for a 3 monitor setup. It use to be expensive option, but with LCDs as cheap as they are and most high end video cards supporting 3 panel outputs, having your flight sim on 3 monitors is starting to become an affordable option to increase the immersion and realism of your flying experience.

5. Flight Controls Tip? More to come…

Flight Controls Software Guide

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