We can’t all be in real-world cockpits every day, so the next best option is a personal flight simulator. Home flight simulator setups can be as basic as the simulator software paired with your existing computer keyboard and mouse although serious flyers typically include dedicated hardware components like yokes, throttle quadrants, and rudder pedals in their simulator configurations. It is all up to you.
Not sure where to start? Join us as we answer the most common flight simulator questions and share our current picks for the 4 best sim yokes for pilots in 2022.
Do You Need a Yoke to Play Flight Simulator?
The joystick vs yoke debate has been ongoing for years, proving that you do not need a yoke to play flight simulator. From a pure hardware and software compatibility standpoint, other options are available including even keyboard and mouse gameplay.
That’s not the end of the story of course. While the casual gamer who wants to try out a flight “game” can make do with a keyboard + mouse configuration and will certainly have a great time armed with no more than a joystick or gaming controller, anyone looking for a more realistic airplane piloting experience will want to ensure their controller of choice closely mimics that of the real aircraft.
What Flight Yoke Should I Buy?
Military and law enforcement members use a “train as you fight” mentality. This means that for training to have the most value, it should be done using gear and scenarios that mimic the real-world situations the training is meant to prepare you for.
Serious pilots who are using a flight simulator for training and not gaming purposes will get the most value from their simulator time when they use controllers that closely approximate those found in their actual cockpit. If you don’t fly your aircraft with a joystick, it makes no sense to train with one because the muscle memory will not be there when you get into the cockpit.
How to Choose a Flight Simulator Yoke
Before we jump into our picks for the four best flight sim yokes, let’s talk about how we chose our favorite products and what factors you should consider as you narrow down which flight simulator yoke is right for you.
The first purchase consideration is system compatibility. If you already own a PC, Mac, or Xbox system and you aren’t planning on buying a new one, you can narrow down your yoke options based on which are compatible with your existing system. Most controllers work with PC and others are Mac compatible. Only a few yokes are currently available for Xbox, but more Xbox yokes and Xbox adapters for existing yokes are expected to be released in the next year or two.
It’s easy to say that the best flight sim yoke is the highest-end model with all the bells and whistles, but if budget is a factor, it’s best to consider that early on. Set your top-end price then filter the results to include only yokes that fall within that range. If you’re dealing with a more limited budget right now, remember that you can always put an upgraded model on your wish list for later. Another budget-maximizing strategy is to purchase a quality stand-alone yoke that is modular and can later be paired with add-ons like rudder pedals and throttle quadrants.
Functionality should be either the second or third factor on your list depending on the purpose of your simulator time. Do you need only basic control inputs to meet your needs or are you looking for a fully realistic approximation of an advanced aircraft cockpit complete with all the corresponding programmable buttons and control inputs? Do you need throttle quadrants and rudder add-ons? If so, make sure your yoke interfaces with those extra components.
Our Picks for the Best Flight Simulator Yokes for Pilots
You’ve reviewed your needs and now you know what to look for in a sim yoke. It’s time to compare the options and decide which yoke is right for you. To get you started, here are our top 4 flight simulator yoke picks for all types of pilots.
1. Logitech Saitek Pro Flight Yoke
Best for: Pilots looking for affordable value
Budget conscious pilots looking to make the transition from generic computer inputs into more realistic flight control simulators at an affordable price will appreciate Logitech’s yoke offering.
The ultra-precise bearings and high-quality stainless-steel shaft of the Logitech (formerly Saitek) Pro Flight yoke are just two of the upgraded features set it apart from others in its price class and earn it the title of best value yoke on our list.
The popular Pro Flight yoke comes with fourteen assignable buttons and three throttle knobs, plus it is easily expandable. The yoke can be paired with other controls including a throttle quadrant system and Pro Flight rudder pedals for an even more immersive cockpit experience which can be built piece by piece over time.
Not all flight sim yokes come with integrated timers, but the Pro Flight does. This feature is useful for pilots who want to practice instrument approaches and other IFR and cross-country flight procedures.
For a mid-entry level yoke, the Pro Flight performs well with just a few quirks including a bit of stickiness on the pitch axis and a 45-degree rotation limit on each side. The central detent design means less input recognition finesse, so micro-adjustments that higher-end controllers can handle during flight may not be recognized by the Pro Flight.
The Pro Flight yoke is compatible with Windows® 10, Windows 8.1, and Windows 7 operating systems although it will not work with Xbox.
Save money on your flight simulator build-out by choosing a Saitek bundle pack. If you’re starting from scratch, we have a yoke, throttle quadrant system, and Microsoft Flight Simulator pack for a complete all-in-one buildout. The flight sim software is a standard edition delivered through digital download.
Already have flight simulator software and just want to upgrade your equipment for a more realistic flight sim experience? Choose the yoke and throttle quadrant bundle.
2. CH Products Yokes (200-615 & Eclipse 200-616)
Best for: Student pilots and aviation hobbyists
The CH Products yokes are good entry level flight simulator yokes to introduce new pilots to a more realistic home simulator setup. These yokes are fairly inexpensive while still offering multiple axes of control, precision adjustment wheels, and numerous button functions. Prop, throttle, and mixture levers are also included.
CH offers both a 200-615 and Eclipse (200-616) model. One of the main differences is that the 615 model has 5 axes of control compared with the 6 axes found on the 616. The additional axis improves the handling finesse and realism of the 616. The upgraded 616 model also has color coded levers and additional controls.
Note that neither yoke works with Xbox and these yokes are easiest to clamp to thinner desktops.
3. Honeycomb Alpha Flight Control Yoke
Best for: Pilots looking for the most realistic control feel
The Honeycomb Alpha Flight Control Yoke is one of the newest flight yokes on the market. It has quickly earned a reputation for being the best overall flight sim yoke for pilots who are serious about training and want a realistic simulator experience.
The Honeycomb Alpha is sturdy and heavy duty, weighing in at 15.2 pounds. Its high build quality is evident in the rubberized matte black finish and sleek ergonomic grips of the durable plastic body.
The realistic yoke provides precise handling—one of the main selling points for the Alpha. Its solid metal shaft supports a full 180° yoke rotation and fluid push/pull motions with no dead zones or inaccurate spring pressures.
A generous complement of switches and buttons complete with adjustable backlighting add to the immersive realism of the Honeycomb experience. You will find both magneto and master controls on the Alpha, with the option to add a throttle quadrant.
The yoke can be mounted using either two steel clamps or a 3M micro-suction pad and it comes backed by a 5-year warranty plus lifetime tech support.
Pro Tip: The current version of the Honeycomb Alpha is compatible with PC and Mac, with an Xbox Hub converter and fully Xbox supported version of the yoke due to be released soon. Also stay tuned for the highly anticipated Honeycomb Charlie rudder pedal launch this summer.
The Honeycomb Alpha is currently available in 3 variations including two bundle deals that pair the yoke with a throttle quadrant and/or Microsoft Flight Simulator software:
- Honeycomb Alpha Flight Sim Yoke
- Honeycomb Alpha Flight Sim Yoke + Bravo Throttle Quadrant Bundle
- Honeycomb Alpha Flight Sim Yoke + Microsoft Flight Simulator Standard Edition Digital Download
4. Turtle Beach Velocity One Flight Simulator Yoke
Best for: Pilots who need Xbox compatibility
Xbox fans rejoice—the Turtle Beach Velocity One flight sim yoke is one of the first Xbox-compatible controllers on the market. Its design focuses on good build quality and full yoke functionality. The Velocity One yoke is highly responsive, supporting 180-degree rotation with firm motions and built-in rudder controls. An authentic status indicator panel delivers real-time status alerts and warnings
A modular throttle quadrant with integrated pitch trim wheel comes bundled with your yoke purchase. The throttle’s eight custom lever handles support realistic simulation experiences for both light and heavy aircraft.
Between the included throttle quadrant and comprehensive controller with 12 analog axes, two POV switches, two 4-way HAT switches, and 18 mappable buttons, the Velocity One by Turtle Beach is an all-inclusive solution to your Xbox flight simulator needs.