Flight simulation programs for the home computer has evolved significantly over the past decades. The first popular flight simulator was released for the Apple II computer in 1981 by subLogic Corporation. The graphics, sounds, and flight model were very basic compared to what is available today. Additionally, joysticks were limited to a basic 2-axis, 2-button option. Many people simply used their keyboard to fly in their simulator. Despite the lack of immersion, it was the closet way for many aviation enthusiasts of all ages to experience flight without spending thousands of dollars in flight school.
The advancement of computing power, video card performance, graphics quality, sound quality, and other technologies in the past decade have all contributed to make flight simulation very realistic and immersive today. Flight simulations today generally falls under two categories - combat simulator or general/civilian simulator. The popular Digital Combat Simulator World (DCS) is a popular platform for study-level combat aircraft that enables you to perform realistic air-to-air and air-to-ground attacks, carrier landings, air-to-air refueling, and many other functions. On the civilian side, popular platforms include Microsoft Flight Simulator, X-Plane and Prepar3D. In fact, the now released Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 simulates the entire Earth with such detail that you can fly VFR (visually using landmarks) from one airport to another using Bing Maps sateliite data interpolated with artificial intelligence.
To help enthusiasts maximize their flight simulation experience, we have compiled the following hardware options we feel can help elevate the realism, precision, and your enjoyment. These are our Amazon affiliate links and can be use to learn more or to make a purchase. This list offers a variety of different features, build quality, and price to provide a good selection to accommodate different needs and budget. There are many more products in the marketplace and we encourage you to explore and research hardware that's best for you. We hope this selection exposes you to new and interesting hardware you may not be familiar with. We will update this list with new and interesting hardware as we learn about them.
- Replic of the U.S. Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt II throttles
- Realistic IDLE detent with "Pull & Push" system
- Realistic and disengageable AFTERBURNER detent with "Pull & Push" system
- Realistic pressure on buttons and switches
- Backlit functions
- Metal construction with weighted base
- Designed for the most demanding flight sim community, after years of development and beta testing!
- Feel and sensations on the 2-step trigger optimized for enhanced realism and immersion in games
- Features 19 action buttons
- 1:1 scale replica of the legendary McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Hornet flight stick handle
- Metal construction
- Compatible with the Thrustmaster HOTAS Cougar and HOTAS Warthog joystick bases (sold separately)
- 100% Native in DCS World
- Life-size (1:1 scale) replica of the real F-16C Viper flight stick
- 100% metal design incorporating durable, industrial-grade materials for an authentic feel and maximum product lifespan
- 19 action buttons in total, plus one 8-way “point of view” hat switch
- Native integration in the game DCS World via the dedicated DCS: F-16C Viper module (game and module sold separately), and compatible in all other flight simulation games
- Compatible with three joystick bases in Thrustmaster’s flight simulation ecosystem: HOTAS Warthog and HOTAS Magnetic Base (sold separately)
- TFRP (T.Flight Rudder Pedals)
- S.M.A.R.T (Sliding Motion Advanced Rail Track) slide rails system!
- Self-centering rudder axis
- Long range of travel
- Versatile ergonomic design
- Two differential brake pedals for optimized flying
- T.A.R.G.E.T advanced programming software for PC
- Pack of 2 multi-function cockpit display panels
- Replicas of the U.S. Air Force F-16 MFD
- 20 buttons + 4 switches per MFD
- Backlighting for buttons with adjustable intensity
- Weighted, non-slip detachable base
- Officially licensed by the U.S. Air Force
- High-performance unidirectional noise-canceling microphone
- Detachable and adjustable microphone
- On-ear volume knob
- Mic volume and mute controls
- Interchangeable faceplates for customization