Review: T.Flight HOTAS Joystick and Throttle

The best low-cost controller for Flight Simulator
By: James Oppenheim | Created: 2021-11-29 06:09:40 | (Updated: 2022-04-28 06:11:52)

If you're trying your hand at Microsoft Flight Simulator, you're going to want a throttle and joystick combo.  Playing using  a dedicated controller ramps up the "realism" and "immersion" factors by a lot; yet it also makes flying much easier and natural. 

Most aircraft use a yoke and throttle, and there are some good ones on the market, but (like most steering wheel controllers) they take up and inordinate amount of room.  Unless you're willing to dedicate a space to the pursuit of flying, a joystick/throttle combination is the better choice.

I purchased the T-Flight Hotas One ($79.99 at BestBuy as of this writing) just as Flight Simulator was released.  It wasn't my first choice.  I really wanted (and ultimately bought) Thrustmaster's HOTAS Warthog set.  It costs many times more than the T.Flight, is loaded with dozens of customizable buttons and switches.  In reality, it costs as much as a Microsoft Xbox X, if you can find one. 

At the height of the pandemic, getting your hands on a HOTAS Warthog controller was almost as difficult as finding a high-end graphics card; they just weren't available except at exorbitant markup. So, I bought the T.Flight, with lowered expectations.

In some ways I was not surprised by the look and feel of the device.  The joystick, though adjustable, is pretty loose, like many gaming sticks. 

However, I was immediately struck by sense that this was a device that had been designed to deliver more than its price might suggest.  First it is larger than it looks in the pictures, and feels substantial, on the one hand, but not so heavy that you wouldn't mind playing with it on your lap.  I was taken with the fact that it works as a single unit or, alternatively, the throttle and joystick can be unhooked from one another, and put on either side of a keyboard. 

Not only does it have a throttle and joystick, there are 14 action buttons plus 1 rapid-fire trigger and multidirectional hat switch useful for looking around the cockpit.  Not only that, you can twist the joystick left and right to simulate rudder pedals.  (Frankly, in space combat games, this may be a  more intuitive way to control turning than rudder pedals, though Thrustmaster sells those as well.)  You can use it on an Xbox X or S, and also on a PC.

Downsides?  The biggest is that it doesn't work with all Xbox titles. Check Thrustmaster's website for a list of compatible games.  The cables could be longer.  And the throttle and stick could both be tighter, as it is on the more expensive HOTAS Warthog.  I've read comments from other users who complain of the stick having a "drift", but this hasn't shown up on my unit.

The biggest "con" is that it is almost as hard to find one of these in a store or on-line as its more expensive big-brother.  I've found it selling for above retail on Amazon and Walmart, though as of this writing it was available at Stock of these goes in and out, so keep trying.

Full disclosure: I use the T.Flight HOTAS on my Xbox X in the living room.  It sets up easily (just plug it in to the USB port on the front of the box), and stores relatively compactly.  However, on my PC, I still prefer the look and feel of the HOTAS Warthog, but at its high price, I understand it is not in everyone's budget.  The important thing is that the T.Flight brings the cost down for a more realistic flight experience, and it does it remarkably well.

As I've previously mentioned, I'm a huge Flight Simulator fan.  On a PC it represents the pinnacle of programming, blending incredible modeling, satellite imagery, and even real-world, real-time weather and air-traffic.  That you can have any version of this on an Xbox X is a testament to the power of that little black box.   Next time you fly over the pyramids, Paris, or Rio, you'll thank me for pushing you to invest in this stick/throttle combination. 

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$ 79.99