Flight simulations have come a long way over the years and so has the PC controllers to go along with them. If you are a fan of flying games from the combat sims like Pacific Fighters to Microsoft Flight Simulator X you need the right controllers to take full advantage of the game. Saitek’s newest and most fully featured flight controller is the X52 Pro Flight control system. Couple the X52 Pro with Saitek’s Pro Flight Rudder Pedals and you have one of the best flight systems around. Read on to see how well the two controllers perform.
In this review I will be looking at two controllers from Saitek, the X52 Pro Flight Control System and the Saitek Pro Flight Rudder Pedals. First up is the X52 Pro Flight Control System and you can tell at a glance when you remove it from the packaging that Saitek meant business when they designed the X52. This HOTAS system has enough buttons and functions that you can map most every control you need for your flight to a button on the throttle of the flight stick.
The joystick portion of the X52 has a precision centering mechanism and the spring tension gives realistic feedback. Three spring loaded toggle switches are located below the joystick and can be mapped to two functions per switch. The main trigger is made from metal and is two position allowing you to control two functions from the trigger. On the top of the joystick are three more fire buttons in addition to the main trigger. The fire button for missiles has a spring loaded safety cover to prevent you from firing accidentally.
Also located on the top of the joystick are two eight-way hat switches. On the bottom of the adjustable handle is a pinkie switch that acts as a shift key to double the programmable keys. The handle itself is adjustable for different hand sizes. You can also twist the stick to control the rudder.
On the throttle are a pair of fire buttons, an eight-way hat switch, two rotary controls, a smooth action slider and a clutch button to allow on-the-fly programming of buttons that can also be used to display a buttons function. The throttle handle has progressive detents and adjustable tension. As you push the throttle forward the lights change from green to red to show after burner or WEP. The throttle also has a multi-function display built in as well. The MFD is designed to show data directly from compatible games like Flight Simulator 10 where it can display radio stack data. Two rotary dials and two additional buttons on the MFD allow more customization and control. The buttons and MFD are backlit making them easy to see in a dark room.
The Saitek Pro Flight Rudder Pedals are much simpler than the X52 Pro. You plug the pedals in via USB and you can control the rudders via the pedals. You can also control the tilt of each adjustable foot pedal which can be mapped to other functions in your game like toe brakes or other control surfaces. A large knob between the pedals allows you to adjust the tension required to move the pedals back and forth. These pedals coupled with the Saitek X52 Pro give you the best flight control system around.
I used the X52 Pro and the Pro Flight Pedals to play Flight Simulator X as well as Pacific Fighters. If you are playing flight games with a simple joystick or your keyboard you are missing out. The wealth of programmable buttons on the X52 Pro means that once you get it configured you seldom, if ever, have to remove your hands from the flight controls to go to the keyboard. Add the rudder pedals in and not only do you get more realism, but you get a more realistic and easier to fly aircraft.
The Saitek programming software is robust, though it has a bit of a learning curve. Thankfully since the X52 Pro is one of the most popular flight simulation controllers around there are a wealth of profiles out there that you can load and program you X52 Pro, Saitek also has a few profiles listed on their site. I very much enjoyed the Pro Flight Rudder pedals. I never liked trying to control the rudder with the rotation of the joystick. It just didn’t feel precise to me and I would end up moving the rudder accidentally at some point during a dogfight.
With the Pro Flight Rudder Pedals I was able to much more accurately align my plane to fire and I could use the rudder to align the plane during a fight for a more accurate shot. In short the Pro Flight Rudder pedals allow you to use the rudder as it was meant to be used giving you more accuracy and more realism at the same time. The only problem I had with these pedals was that they tended to move if I pushed to hard. They need some sort of retention mechanism for use on carpet.
- The X52 Pro is very adjustable and well built
- Tons of programmable buttons
- Rudder pedals add greatly to the realism of your games.
- Initial programming can be difficult
Pro Flight Rudder pedals moved around too much at times
If flight simulation cams are your bag, you need to get your hands on the Saitek X52 Pro and the Saitek Pro Flight Rudder Pedals. These two items combine to give you the most accurate and realistic flying experience you will find outside of enlisting in the Air Force or learning to fly real planes yourself.
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