Here’s a look at the best flight simulator controls for an at-home simulator. There are others, of course–especially on the high end, for use at training facilities.
But this sampling will get you started. With the suggestions made here, you can make your home simulator into anything you want it to be.
Our previous articles have looked at the best flight simulators and how to set up a home flight simulator. But a flight simulator is just a detailed computer game without some dedicated controls to make it act like the cockpit of your training aircraft.
Three Primary Flight Simulator Control Components
Most of the commercially available controls are modular so that they can be used in any combination with one another.
- Yoke or Stick
- Rudder Pedals
- Throttle Quadrant
Should I Get a Yoke or Stick?
Is it necessary to fly with a yoke at home? Of course, if you fly a plane with a yoke, it’s best to have a yoke.
But flying with a stick isn’t all that different and probably won’t throw you off. However, you do want to hold it in the correct hand and make it as similar to flying a small plane as possible.
In other words, that super-cool F/A-18 Hornet joystick with the hands-on throttle is not the best solution.
The Best Flight Simulator Controls
We organized our list by the brand to better compare each company’s offerings. Of course, you can mix and match brands, and most companies make each component.
Honeycomb Aeronautical Alpha and Bravo Flight Controls — Yoke and Throttles
Honeycomb Aeronautical makes the top-rated flight yoke with metal components and a great feel. The Alpha unit includes the yoke, which also has master and magneto switches, trim and control hat switches, and push-to-talk buttons.
But their Bravo throttle quadrant really stands out–it’s fully customizable to suit any aircraft. You can add, remove, and reorganize any levers in the six slots to mimic any plane, from non-complex single-engine trainers to light twins or airliners.
In addition to the customizable quadrant, the Bravo includes trim, gear selector with indicator, flap lever, and autopilot controls. There is also an annunciator panel with seven programmable switches and 14 warning lights.
You can purchase the units separately or as a bundle. The Honeycomb Alpha and Bravo controls are compatible with Microsoft Flight Simulator X or better, as well as X-Plane 11 or better running on either Windows 10 or MacOS Catalina.
According to their website, you can pre-order the Charlie rudder pedals. But, at least for now, we recommend pairing the Alpha and Bravo with a set of Logitech or Thrustmaster pedals (listed below).
Logitech G Pro Flight Controls
Logitech has long been a maker of computer peripherals, from webcams and keyboards to gaming flight sticks and realistic flight simulator controls. The Logitech G Pro Flight line includes everything you’ll need to turn your den into the cockpit of your trainer. All of these controls work with Windows or Mac. Before being built by Logitech, these were manufactured by Saitek–a name you might still see floating around the internet.
These controls aren’t the best out there–many would call them “entry-level”–but their price point is very attractive, and they are loaded with features. For less than $300, you can have a complete setup with a yoke, throttles, and pedals.
Yoke — Logitech’s yoke has a metal shaft and clamps securely to your desk for a solid feel. It includes the typical trim, hat, and button controls at your fingertips, plus a stopwatch and USB hub.
Stick — Finding a flight stick that mimics a small aircraft is challenging. The Logitech sticks are all designed to be flown with the right hand, as one would fly a military aircraft or rotorcraft. The best is the Extreme 3D Pro, which has 12 programable buttons, a hat switch for trim, and a simple built-in throttle lever.
The stick can also be twisted side-to-side for rudder control. This isn’t authentic for flight students, but it does mean that this one item–at under $35–can meet all your needs and get you set up and flying a simulator quickly and easily.
Throttle — The throttle quadrant is a basic three-lever setup with the standard throttle, prop, and mixture levers. The tops of the lever come off and can be interchanged to organize the cockpit as needed. You can also mount more than one quadrant side-by-side, allowing for multi-engine flying.
Pedals — The Logitech Pro Flight pedals are some of the best available. They’re large and robust, with an authentic sliding motion for the rudder and tap for brakes.
You can save quite a bit by buying the controls bundled together. Get the yoke, throttles, and pedals here for less than $300.
Extras — Logitech’s Pro Flight system is designed to be expandable, so you can keep adding components to make your cockpit more useable. They have a Multi Panel, which gives you autopilot, trim, and flap controls.
There are also 3.5-inch LCD flight instrument displays, which can be stacked and combined to create a full cockpit in front of your controls. Each unit can be any instrument from your cockpit.
Finally, there are other peripherals as well. For example, their Radio Panel gives you two lines of switchable NAV/COMs. The Switch Panel includes controls for magnetos, gear (with indicators), master switch, and all your electrical switches.
Are you looking for a high-end solution? VirtualFly makes simming equipment for training centers, and flight schools, including some FAA approved training devices. While it’s not worth going that far for your home study, they make excellent yokes and quadrants.
These high-quality controls provide a realistic feel, but they lack some of the features of the gaming controls. For example, you will find few generic buttons and programmable settings on the yoke or throttles. Instead, they sell separate switch panels for even more realism.
Unfortunately, this means that a whole setup is fairly expensive.
One of the most interesting options available from VirtualFly is their TPM (Throttle, Prop, Mixture) quadrant that is set up with push-pull levers, just like a real Cessna.
Their Switcho panels are available in several configurations, including Engines, Trims, Radios, and Lights. These can be stacked to make one of the most realistic-looking panels you can get for your home sim.
VirtualFly is based in Spain, so you’ll need to purchase through a North American distributor. With each panel costing around $500, it will be one expensive simulator setup!
Turtle Beach VelocityOne Flight Controls
The Turtle Beach VelocityOne Flight Control System is similar to the Honeycomb setup but only works with Microsoft Windows and Xbox. It may work with X-Plane, but it will require manual setup. Consider researching its compatibility carefully if you’re using it with anything other than an MSFS/Windows platform.
The yoke is robustly built with a metal shaft and the standard hat and button finger controls. The base includes an annunciator panel with LED lights, and there’s a stopwatch built into the yoke face. The yoke also has integrated finger controls for the rudder and brakes if you want to forgo the pedals.
The throttle quadrant includes four vertical levers and three push-pull Cessna-style vernier controls. If flying with the push-pull controls, the upper levers can double controls. It includes a trim wheel and ten programmable buttons.
The VelocityOne Rudder Pedals also only work with Windows or Xbox. They have realistic sliding motion and toe brakes.
Turtle Beach also makes a clever folding stand to hold the yoke, throttle quadrant, and rudder pedals if you need a permanent desk or need more mobility.
Finally, the Turtle Beach Universal Simulator Controller is a flight stick controller for Windows or Xbox.
It has a design that can be used with either hand, although it’s still not perfect for left-handed use. The base includes throttles and programmable buttons that offer enough flexibility to be used for pretty much anything.
Redbird Alloy Home Simulator Controls
Redbird is a leading supplier of FAA-approved training devices in flight schools. They also make some super-realistic controls for the home user. The nice thing about their Alloy line is that you can pick and choose the precise look and feel you want to replicate.
For example, the Alloy YK2 is the only controller with a real side stick. So if you’re flying a Cirrus, pair it with the RD1 rudder pedals and the TH3 throttle quadrant. For a Cessna, replace the side stick with the standard YK1 yoke and go for the push-pull style TH1 throttle quadrant.
These controls are high quality, all metal, and built for daily use. Unfortunately, they are less customizable than other brands and more expensive.
Thrustmaster makes a variety of gaming controllers, from cars to fighter jets to airliners.
Many of Thurstmaster’s fun options are aimed at enthusiasts who want to sim their favorite planes, from the HOTAS Warthog setup to Boeing yokes and Airbus sticks. There’s little for small plane simulation, however. The Boeing yoke is large, but there’s no reason you couldn’t use it to fly your Cessna if you felt like it.
The Thrustmaster pedals come in two styles. The TFRP (Thrustmaster Flight Rudder Pedals) are built on a metal structure (but with plastic components), with fluid movement for the rudder and brake controls.
The TPR is a high-end pedal built entirely of metal on a unique vertical pedestal. This allows a more realistic feel and greater, more realistic brake control.
Thrustmaster controls only work on Windows PCs, although the TFRP also works on Xbox and PlayStation. With that said, some users have successfully used X-Plane on a Mac with some tinkering.
Don’t Overthink It–Start Simple and Get Flying
With all of these choices, try not to be overwhelmed. Flight simming should be fun, even if you use it as a study aid. No matter which controls you pick, you’ll likely use your flight simulator differently as you learn more about it.
And no matter how you set it up, you’re sure to learn a ton about planes and aviation just by playing around with it.
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Brian is an experienced digital marketer who joined Thrust Flight in 2022 as the Chief Marketing Officer. He discovered a passion for aviation at 10 when he went for his first flight in a Piper Cherokee and enjoys helping others discover a career path as a professional pilot. He is an experienced marketing consultant helping brands with a variety of marketing initiatives. Brian received a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Brigham Young University.