- Title: Saitek Aviator Flight Stick
- Produced By: Mad Catz
- Genre: Flight Stick Controller
- Pros: Price; surprisingly intuitive; works great; definitely makes flight combat games more fun
- Cons: A bit of a lightweight
The Aviator Flight Stick is a one-piece unit and the only setup you need to do is put together a little hand rest on the stick with a couple of included screws. The throttle lever is on the back of the unit and offers a wide range of movement so you can set your speed. The stick itself has full 360-degree movement as well as yaw control by twisting it left or right. On top of the stick there is B, Y, X buttons (and the X button has a cover over it you have to flip up like a real missile button in a real jet), and the trigger on the back of the grip is the A button. There is also a small control stick on top that takes the place of the right analog stick on a normal 360 pad for camera control. On the front of the unit there are buttons for the bumper buttons, stick buttons (like when you press in the analog sticks), Back and Start, and another control stick that represents the d-pad.
There is also a switch on the side of the unit that lets you select between two modes where the button assignments are slightly different. Mode 1 is for HAWX and Ace Combat 6 and Mode 2 is for the Blazing Angels games.
It should also be noted that the Aviator Flight Stick is compatible with both the Xbox 360 and the PC, so for $50 you can get a lot of use out of it if you are a big flight sim/combat fan.
It does take a little getting used to because the buttons aren’t where you expect them to be (the A button is the trigger, the Y is where B used to be and B is where A normally is …) and you have to play using two hands. I play with my right hand on the stick and my left hand on the throttle (but you could play the other way around if you want) and occasionally you have to move your throttle hand down to the front of the unit to press a button or use the d-pad stick to select a different weapon or issue commands to your wingmen. You’ll have to look down at what you are doing for a while at first, but eventually you get used to where everything is and can use all of the controls without looking.
My one small complaint about the Aviator stick is that it is really, really light. Gamers have been trained over the years to not trust lightweight accessories, particularly from third-party manufacturers, and it is easy to be kind of skeptical of the Aviator when you pick up the box and feel how light it is. We have used it for a couple of weeks now with no problems, though, so in this case you shouldn’t worry too much about build quality. Another slight concern with the weight is that it might slide around too much during use. No worries here either, as it has rubber feet on the bottom so if you play it with it sitting on your desk or coffee table or even your lap it doesn’t move around too much despite not having any weight to it.