The Saitek Pro Flight Yoke System is a flight control setup for desktop flight simulation, including a self-centering yoke and separate throttle quadrant with three customizable levers.
ORDERING / PRICE (in US Dollars)
$130 – Purchased at a local Fry’s Electronics (price-matched) – Dec 2013.
Fry’s Electronics lists the unit for $150, but I searched online, and they matched Walmart’s listed online price at checkout.
SHIPPING / PACKAGING
This item was picked up locally so no shipping was involved.
Saitek packs their products in plastic bags, surrounded by custom molded cardboard liners, then inside a medium cardstock full-color printed outer box with some nice “see-through” graphics. The product was not damaged and all expected items were included.
DRIVERS / MANUALS
Device drivers are included on a CD. As with most retail gaming electronics, there was also plenty of self-advertisement included in the documentation package, selling some affiliate game or showing off another product.
I seldom use the drivers included with a retail product as they are typically already outdated. Instead, I downloaded the latest drivers directly from Saitek’s driver website.
The manual was simple, easy to read, and included graphical depictions of the device and usage. It references the Saitek website and the local US supplier MadCatz.
ASSEMBLY / INSTALLATION
The yoke and throttle units themselves are completely assembled out of the box. You may need to assemble the throttle mount as it can be adjusted to fit many different desk configurations. The yoke system mounts to the desk with a large, strong plastic bracket and a robust padded pressure screw. Once tightened, it is very stable.
The throttle unit’s PS2 cable connects to the yoke, then the yoke’s USB cable connects to the PC. The included throttle quadrant cannot operate alone and requires the yoke system.
The yoke does have a 3-port onboard USB hub, but if you plug anything needing USB power into them such as the Saitek Radio Panels, you will need the external power adapter.
NOTE: This power adapter (PZ44UX) is NOT included, but you can find them for under $20 at online retailers such as Amazon.com.
INTEGRATION / OPERATION
After installing the Saitek drivers, they run in the background and start automatically with Windows. An icon of the yoke will appear in the System Tray, which is also where you can configure custom profiles and button/axis settings specific to each application. You can even select Mode A, B, or C via a thumbwheel on the yoke and triple the number of possible button functions.
I chose to go the DirectInput route and let FSX detect the device and allow me to assign axis and button functions within the simulator. There was no trouble completing this. I then configured pan view on the hat switch, with flaps up/down, elevator trim up/down, rudder trim left/right, TO/GA, and ATC Option 1 on the other various toggles and buttons.
The center of the yoke itself contains an LCD display with a digital clock which shows the PC’s system time or can be used as a manual chronometer. It also displays the current active profile Mode A, B, or C. This display is backlit and stays on anytime the PC is on and the yoke is connected, regardless if FSX is running or not.
The yoke has static control force resistance in both elevator and aileron axis. However, there is a significant lack of resistance or “dead zone” from zero to about 30% nose down which can make it tricky to center/dive the yoke. Also, the stainless steel shaft can stick a bit to the plastic housing when the humidity is high. I used a very thin coating of all-purpose light oil on the steel to keep it moving smoothly.
The 3-axis throttle quadrant unit comes with interchangeable colored knobs for throttle, mixture, and prop. They are held in place by a small detent on the knob which friction fits into notches in the levers. For airliners, I use them for throttle, speed brake, and flaps. I cut a self-adhesive shipping label into strips, attached them to the unit, then marked the different location of the speed brake and flaps engagement points.
The resistance to moving/holding the quadrant levers is less than I would have liked, but the switches that activate below 0 for reverse thrust are positive and you know it is engaged or not.
The three toggles below the levers are currently set up as Parking Brake/Landing Gear, and as the two Engine Fuel levers. I could not get the Engine Fuel levers to work from within FSX with the PMDG 737NGX, but using the Saitek profile tool, I configured them to send the following keystrokes instead:
Eng 1 Idle: Ctrl+Shift+F2
Eng 1 Cutoff: Ctrl+Shift+F1
Eng 2 Idle: Ctrl+Shift+F4
Eng 2 Cutoff: Ctrl+Shift+F3
TIP: If you do use a custom profile, remember to enable it via the System Tray icon before starting FSX.
Lastly, across the top of the yoke housing, there are hex screws that are only there as attachment points for the rest of the Saitek panel kits.
I have not needed to contact the manufacturer or reseller with this product. It has performed as advertised.
As my first “simulator” hardware, the Pro Flight Yoke System is a huge step up from the Saitek X45 joystick set I was using originally. While the X45 is fantastic, joysticks are good for fighters, helicopters, and Airbus, but not for the General Aviation (GA) and Boeings I fly. This yoke system does a great job of giving you a true flight control interface and is solidly constructed. My yoke system has taken quite a few kicks and bumps and still operates as if new.
My only issues are the “dead zone” in the elevator axis and the exclusion of the USB hub power supply. For these, I give the Saitek Pro Flight Yoke System a score of 8 out of 10.
UPDATE: I replaced this Saitek Yoke when I upgraded to my Simujabs Yoke Control Column.
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