Flight sticks are customized gaming accessories to play flight simulator games. Essentially joysticks/flight sticks come with certain added controls and buttons suited to match the requirements for challenging flight simulation games like the Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 or the Ace Combat 7.
What Is a Flight Stick?
A control stick or a flight stick is a flight control device for aircraft which consists of a control column, also known as the joystick, placed at the cockpit’s center between the legs of a pilot. The cockpit arrangement usually comes in 2 pieces, namely, the throttle and the stick.
The hands-on throttle-and-stick or HOTAS controllers use a throttle and stick setup to simulate the authentic aircraft’s controllers. The HOTAS controllers are popular in the world of flight-simulation since they enable pilots to emulate essential cockpit functions and fly their aircraft.
Buyer’s Guide: How To Choose the Best Joystick?
Joysticks are specialized gaming gadgets that have their features and technical specifics. Choosing the right flight stick may seem intimidating since it is more complicated than choosing a simple controller for your game station.
The gaming market offers various models with a wide range of features. Hence, it is important to discuss the important features linked with a flight stick to help you choose the best one for the ultimate gaming experience.
This works like a lever that is pulled back or pushed forward to slow down or speed up the vehicle you’re flying. They are either joined to the joystick on the base or bought as an independent, detachable control.
Buying a detachable throttle control is more beneficial. You will get more utility with separate controls for each hand. The detachable throttle usually offers more buttons and controls but unfortunately, they will cost you more than the ones attached to the stick’s base.
A variety of gaming setups are available based on what gadgets you want to employ while you play your favorite flight simulator. The most commonly used gaming setups include –
Hands-on Throttle-and-Stick requires you to use the throttle on one hand and joystick on the other at all times if you are using all the controls on the stick.
Hands-on Stick-and-Keyboard can be useful if you do not have a throttle or when you require more buttons than what the joystick setup provides.
Hands-on Stick-and-Mouse configurations are best suited for better flight precision but it does limit the number of specific buttons available.
Hands-on Stick-and-Stick works like HOSAM but with added accuracy and realism. You also get more buttons with this setup.
The button configuration and its layout are extremely important for professional gamers, especially for flight simulators. Many gamers prefer separate controls for the stick and the throttle as it provides more versatility and space for gameplay.
However, overly spaced out buttons will force gamers to put in the effort for moving fingers across them, reducing efficiency and speed.
Hat Switch Control and Z-Axis
The Z-axis involves twisting the stick to the right or left that controls yaw in space and flight simulators. You may use pedals too if you do not have this feature. However, the pedals may cost you more. The Hat switch control works like the Directional-pad on console controllers. They offer point-of-view control so that it is easy to switch from one camera angle to another.
Choosing an efficient flight stick can be a tough job and so, the following reviews may help you find the most suitable flight stick in 2020 that meets your gaming requirements.
List Of Th Best Flight Stick & Hotas In 2020
1. Thrustmaster T-Flight Stick X
The Thrustmaster T-Flight offers a plastic joystick and throttle. A single driverless USB cable allows you to hook the system to your PS3 or PC. You can operate the joystick and throttle by connecting it with either a double screw or simple hook connection.
Thrustmaster provides a sound-cable system located just beneath the throttle, keeping the flight stick clean and tidy. The ergonomic design of the stick comes with wide hand rest for extra comfort. However, the stick does not offer any motion-sensor functions.
Coming to the throttle, it is a fully programmable 4-axis unit with 12 buttons and can be operated with a neutral setting. 4 thumb buttons can be comfortably controlled from the front, while 3 more buttons are located on the stick’s base.
You can customize the setting for every game or plane. The throttle provides high precision so you can control the speed with accuracy. The ergonomic layout allows you to perform several functions at the same time. You also get internal memory storage for varied configurations even when the stick is offline.
So, if you are looking for the best joystick for PC or PS3 at a bargain price tag of under $70, this Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS X stick should be in your top 3.
Weight: 1.16 kg | Dimensions: 8.6 x 9.8 x 8.5 inches | Batteries Required: Lithium batteries, 2-Watt hours | Compatibility: PC, PS3
- Multiple programmable buttons
- Excellent ergonomics
- Lacks premium materials
2. Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS X
This Hands-on throttle and stick or HOTAS is an entry-level flight product introduced by Thrustmaster for flight simulators compatible with PC and PS3.
This T-Flight HOTAS has 15 buttons in total – 4 buttons on the stick, 8-way hat, and 3 buttons on its base with a twist-action.
You can operate the T-Flight stick either as 2 separate devices or join them by securing it with 2 screws and an Allen key to turn it into a single gaming unit. You can also adjust the joystick’s resistance with an adjusting dial on the base.
The ergonomics of the T-Flight stick are quite decent, except the position of Y-button since it is fixed farther away from the rest. But otherwise, this is one of the best selling flight sticks formats and best suited for first-time users.
The Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS flight stick is an entry-level controller with specific design inputs that separate it from the rest.
Weight: 1 kg | Dimensions: 7.48 x 5.31 x 1.18 inches | Batteries required: 2 CR2 batteries | Compatibility: PC, PS3
- Budget buy
- Sturdy construction
- Adjustable resistance
- Precise and smooth Axis motion
- Below-par build quality
- Short cable
- Y-button is strangely positioned
3. ThrustMaster T-Flight – Best HOTAS For PS4
Clad in black and blue, the Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS 4 comes with a USB port and is one of the most popular gaming accessories for flight simulator fans. This is also among the best flight sticks for PS4 as well.
The base of the stick contains rubber grips to ensure that it remains in place. With the T-Flight 4, the HOTAS controller has buttons placed on both the stick and throttle which enables you to use primary functions without taking your hands off your joystick.
The ergonomic design includes a wide hand rest that allows you to play all kinds of flight games for long hours. The stick is quite comfortable to use with the throttle contoured to the shape of your hand.
Adjust the joystick’s resistance based on your preferences. With the smooth throttle mechanism, the center position indicates the default cruising speed. You can position the detachable throttle in 2 ways.
For higher stability, you can attach the throttle to the stick. To recreate piloting conditions, detach the throttle from the stick and use it separately.
All in all, the Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS 4 flight stick is a solid option for beginners and amateurs alike. And for under $80, this is one of the best HOTAS for PS4 you can buy.
Weight: 1.8 kg | Dimensions: 11.81 x 11.81 x 11.81 inches | Batteries required: 1 Lithium ion battery | Compatibility: PC, PS4
- Integrated PS4 touchpad
- Built-in headphone jack
- Excellent feedback
- All-encompassing controls and buttons
- No rumble functions
- Sub-par quality buttons
4. Thrustmaster 2960778 T.16000M FCS HOTAS Controller
The Thrustmaster T.16000M HOTAS joystick and throttle are fully covered in controls and buttons, including 3 buttons and 1 trigger with a single hat switch at the tip of the stick.
The 12 buttons on the stick’s base sit together with a braille-like marking on each button. The stick can be comfortably used by both left and right-handed gamers.
The brilliant throttle action is linear instead of on-point. The 3 hat switches, 3 buttons, 2 rocker switches, and 1 special analog hat switch sit neatly under your grip and each hat is differently shaped so you can determine instantly which hat switch you are using.
You can use the throttle and stick separately since each unit includes separate USB ports. However, the throttle is more efficient than the stick. But, in terms of ergonomics, the stick perfectly fits in your grip.
The Thrustmaster FCS HOTAS may be the best flight stick for novice gamers on a budget. With T. A. R. G. E. T advanced programming software and MDF Cougar systems, this gaming stick works splendidly and is well worth the $145 tag.
Weight: 1.4 kg | Dimensions: 9.01 x 10.39 x 10.7 inches | Batteries required: 2 AA batteries | Compatibility: PC
- Classic joystick design
- Brilliant sliding throttle action
- Wealth of controls and buttons
- Rudder controls on joystick
- Extremely fragile triggers
- Outdated joystick design
- Poorly placed buttons
5. Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS One Ace Combat 7 Edition
The Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS One Ace consists of the throttle and stick assemblies, joined with a cable. The pack is dynamic, providing fighting instincts, piloting sensitivity, and optimum utility for a competitive gaming edge.
The stick has 2 buttons for the trigger finger and a hat switch. The throttle includes A, B, X, Y buttons placed close to your thumb, 2 buttons for the trigger finger with a rocker switch. The base has 3 buttons.
This flight stick is compatible with PC as well as Xbox One, and you can switch between the two with a toggle button.
The stick offers a rudder twist action that links to the pedals for maneuvering the aircraft, left or right movements, and pivoting on a vertical axis. Operate the rudder function with a progressive toggle button or by turning the built-in handle.
With T-Flight Rudder Pedal compatibility, this pack is the first S.M.A.R.T or Sliding Motion Advanced Rain Tracks rudder system that lets gaming enthusiasts, beginners, and professionals alike, experience smoother flight simulation at under $80.
Weight: 1.9 kg | Dimensions: 10 x 9.2 x 9.97 inches | Batteries required: 1 Lithium ion batteries | Compatibility: PC, Xbox One
- Solid build and design
- Improved gameplay
- Compatible with several games and devices
- Lacks rumble function
- Buttons cannot be remapped
6. Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick
With Logitech Extreme 3D Pro, fly your aircraft better with twist-handle rudder and multiple other advanced controls.
It is a sturdy and simple USB joystick that offers the necessary features such as 4 control axis (throttle lever, a rudder twist-action, left-right action, stick fore-aft), 11 buttons (5 buttons on stick, 6 buttons on base and 1 trigger button) and an 8-way hat switch on the stick’s top.
The 12 programmable buttons allow you to execute intricate macros, simple commands involving mouse events, and operation of multiple actions. The comfortable ergonomic design of the 8-way hat switch captures specialized inputs accurately specific to flight simulations.
Rapid-fire trigger ensures that each twitch is captured accurately without missing any action. The sculpted curves on the stick fit perfectly to your hand so you can pull off hours of comfortable gaming.
Priced at under $70, the Logitech Extreme 3D Pro joystick is one of the best joysticks for PC flight simulators considering the easy-to-use stick, perfect throttle, and superior build quality. This is also rated as one of the best joysticks for DCS.
Weight: 1.1 kg | Dimensions: 9.2 x 8.8 x 8.4 inches | Compatibility: PC
- Easy and comfortable to use
- Appropriate positioning of the buttons
- Rapid-fire trigger works well
- Durable build-quality
- Thrust control cannot be adjusted
- Unnecessarily large stick
7. Logitech G X52 Flight Control System
Logitech has made the newest addition to its lineup that sports innovative and useful features on the G X52 flight control system. Both the stick and throttle emit a blue glow with the built-in LCD and they are made from rubberized dark grey plastic and brushed aluminum.
Coming to the performance, the joystick sports fully programmable two 8-way hat switches, 3-way mode selector button, 4 weapons buttons, a dual-action pinky-trigger, and index trigger, and 3 up and down toggles. It also features the main trigger with 2 contact points for flight simulation.
Both the hand base and the pinky trigger are vertically adjustable to allow gamers with the smallest fingers easily access both face and trigger buttons. The package does not include any rudder pedals. However, the flight stick is adjustable and twistable.
Other than the above features, the throttle comes with a mouse pointer with which you can operate the menu selections without switching your hands.
So, if you want to buy a solid flight stick that looks stylish with blue LCD glow light, Logitech G X52 Flight Control System should be on your gaming list.
Weight: 2.2 kg | Dimensions: 14.33 x 10.04 x 8.98 inches | Compatibility: PC
- Easy calibration
- Excellent control response
- Wobbly mouse knob on the throttle
- Too many buttons and switches
8. Guillemot Thrustmaster T.16000M Fcs Joystick
The Guillemot Thrustmaster T.16000M flight stick pack comes in 3 pieces of control gear: throttle, rudder pedals, and a stick.
The sturdy plastic body includes 8-rubber pads to ensure that the stick remains in one place. With the throttle axis on its base and the Z-axis on, the joystick acts like a rudder and allows you to twist for additional movement options.
The rudder pedals provide complete rudder control but you can not lock the twist axis with hardware adjustments. However, the twist axis can be released when you are using rudder pedals.
Unlike the cheaper sticks that provide below-par sensor technology, this Thrustmaster uses high-end Hall Effect sensor technology, providing precise and accurate controls.
The stick’s gimbal is plasticky and the springs are of medium strength, providing linear resistance over a wide range of motion games.
All-in-all, Guillemot Thrustmaster T.16000M has added axis options, sensor technology, and control buttons exactly where they are needed.
The above features make this pack an ideal buy under $90 for most gaming enthusiasts – this is one of the best joysticks for PCs you can buy.
Weight: 1.3 kg | Dimensions: 3.94 x 3.94 x 1.18 inches | Compatibility: PC | Batteries required: 2 AA batteries
- Above-par stick performance
- Multiple buttons and controls
- Efficient sensor technology
- Fairly stiff springs
- Sluggish button response
9. Logitech G X56 H.O.T.A.S. RGB Throttle and Stick
The Logitech G X56 has made a significant improvement over the older designs with brilliant lighting that makes this stick immediately desirable.
The 2-piece Logitech system sports high-tech features that include a mini analog stick and RGB lighting on both the stick and the throttle.
Button placement and controls are perfect and the performance of the stick is accurate with a 16-bit elevator, aileron axis, hall-effect characters, and configurable buttons on either piece.
Both the throttle and stick feature a tension adjuster and the wide bases keep the devices steady in one place. You can also adjust the stick’s resistance level via a 4-spring mechanism.
Additionally, the 6DoF feature or 6 Degrees of Freedom offers movement controls including roll, yaw, forwards, backward, roll, left, right, up, and down. Moreover, you can adjust the response curves and dead-bands to tune the axes.
In short, this Logitech joystick and throttle combo is a high-end quality setup with over 189 programmable controls. Although the price tag is at $360, X56 is one of the best joysticks available today.
Weight: 2.3 kg | Dimensions: 11.4 x 6.69 x 7.08 inches | Batteries required: 1 Lithium ion battery | Compatibility: PC
- Multiple customizable controls
- Mini analog stick
- VR compatibility
- Sleek design
- RGB lighting
- Very expensive
- Complicated calibration
10. GRS Tron – Best Cheap Flight Stick
The GRS Tron Arcade flight stick is ideal for amateur gamers providing an original Tron joystick feel. The gear is made of high-quality plastic material and does not take too much height or space, designed to provide the ultimate control and precision.
The blue LED backlight looks brilliant and easily makes this product stand out from the competition. The Tron flight stick sports additional switchable restrictor gates that can move either 4 ways or 8 ways.
The simple design of the leaf switches looks like Sanwa or Seimitsu switches that have a nice click feel to it.
It does lack buttons and additional configurations available in the other joysticks we have reviewed above. But this is the best suited as the additional flight stick with an arcade gaming box.
Also, if you are a DIY enthusiast, this is the joystick you would need as you can create your own customer Raspberry PI flight stick controller.
Overall this budget flight stick offers price-to-performance quality with USB connectivity. With this flight stick, you get to experience custom spinning controls at under $50.
Weight: 710 grams | Dimensions: 11.61 x 11.18 x 4.01 inches | Compatibility: PC (Including Linux), iMac, Raspberry PI
- Brilliant blue LED light
- Value for money
- Dual restrictor gates
- Cheap quality
- Poor ergonomic design
Are HOTAS Worth It?
A decent flight HOTAS stick provides extra controls and enhances the feel of a flight game. You can rotate and yaw at the same time, and usually, you will have more keys and more control functionality on the joystick compared to a mouse or even a gamepad.
What Does HOTAS Stand For?
HOTAS is an acronym of Hands-on throttle-and-stick, a gaming gear that includes a flight stick and throttle lever allowing access to required flight controls without removing his hand from the controller. HOTAS are custom gaming accessories to play flight simulators.
Can a Flight Simulator Teach You To Fly?
No! A flight simulator on your PC or PSN cannot teach you how to fly an aircraft in real life. However, it is possible to get trained with the help of a simulator. Once you get the hang of flying using a flight simulator and you can manage your aircraft well, it is probably a great way to initiate the training procedure and learn more complicated operations through a flight simulator. Modern flying schools combine flight and cockpit simulation with real-time training.
What Is The Best Joystick For Elite Dangerous?
The best joystick for Elite Dangerous is the Thrustmaster T.16000M that provides many buttons and controls. Elite Dangerous needs multiple controls to combat or navigate in the game. The flight stick and the throttle of Thrustmaster T.16000M offer a realistic experience to the pilot from the cockpit, rated commonly popularly as one of the best joysticks for Elite Dangerous.
Are Longer Joysticks Better?
Longer joysticks can make challenging maneuvers easier since the throttle lever is longer and allows for a larger degree of calibration and movement. This would allow you to make minute adjustments even quicker. A longer stick generally pairs well with higher sensitivity of your joystick.
A flight stick is a vital gear for flight simulators or the best aircraft games. This accessory gives the best-simulated flying experience and lets you navigate through virtual skies. You get a chance to acquire piloting skills and get a more immersive feel using a flight stick in place of a keyboard and mouse.
If you are looking for an entry-level flight stick under $100, choose either Logitech Extreme 3D Pro or Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS X. If you can extend your budget a little, the next best option would be the Thrustmaster T.16000M HOTAS that costs around $145.
But, in case you want a professional-level flight stick, the best option perhaps would be Logitech G X56 RGB flight stick priced at $360.
Engage in combat or fly through complicated scenarios with ease if you have the best flight stick inside your palm.
Before choosing the best option, go through the specifications of each product and our Buyers’ Guide mentioned up top to get a complete idea on which is the best flight stick for you!