Reader Question–Should I invest in rudder pedals

Our first reader question of 2023 comes to us from Spencer who is relatively new to flight simulation.  He’s asking a fairly common question regarding whether he should invest in a set of rudder pedals.  Before I get to my answer/opinion, first allow me to tell a story. Way back in the early days of my own flight simulation experience, I spent a ton of time in the sim with only an inexpensive joystick.  At some time in either the very late 90’s or perhaps early 2000’s, I purchased my first yoke.  It was the CH Products Flight Sim Yoke and incredibly I still use it today.  Yes, it’s held together quite well and has saw me through many generations of flight sim platforms including FS9, FSX, P3D versions 2 – 5 and now MSFS.  It’s at least 23 years old (could be as much as 24-25) and with the exception of needing to adjust my null zones a little higher due to it being less sensitive in its old age, it still works really well.  I subscribe to the theory that if it’s not broke, don’t fix it or in this case, don’t replace it. 

Now back to that inexpensive joystick I used over a quarter century ago.  Like I said, it was cheap…but it worked and while it didn’t include a “twisting action” to control the rudder, I just simply used the “auto-rudder” settings in the sim to get around this.  Of course, when I upgraded to the CH Products Yoke I still had to continue to use the “auto-rudder” settings inside the sim as I had no additional control over the rudder action. 

Within a few weeks of adding the yoke, I then purchased my first set of rudder pedals.  Way back in the early 2000’s we really didn’t have a huge selection of add-on hardware like we do today.  I paired the CH Products Yoke with a set of CH Products rudder pedals and of course turned off the “auto rudder” feature.  I couldn’t believe how much this pairing improved my flight simulation experience.  To this day, I still use this same combination of hardware.  However, my first set of pedals stopped working after about 5 years and I replaced with the same. 

So to get back on track, even if you currently use a joystick with a “twisting action” to control the rudder function of the aircraft, I truly believe your overall experience and certainly your immersion will be greatly increased by adding a set of rudder pedals to your flight sim setup. 

As for recommendations, I’ve read a lot of really great reviews on the Thrustmaster TPR Pendular Rudder Pedals, but these require a pretty hefty investment of about $600.00.  The lesser quality version of the Thrustmaster TFRP Rudder Pedals are around $130.00.  Another higher end model that is also a favorite among fellow flight simmers is the Honeycomb Charlie Pedals.  These sell for $349.00, but are sold out at the present time from the manufacturer. 

For me personally, when/if my CH Products pedals finally stop working I will most likely replace them with something in the $130 – $200 range unless I can get a good deal on the TM TPR pedals I mentioned earlier. 

Bottom line and to close this out, I believe rudder pedals are a must have for any flight simulation enthusiast.  I really don’t believe I could, nor would want to fly without them. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Must Have Hardware Items for Flight Simulation

A few days ago I reviewed all the various options you have in choosing a flight simulation application.  I covered everything back to FSX and everything forward to Dovetail Games Flight Sim World, X-Plane and my favorite Prepar3D.

While some simulation game titles such as Truck Sim, Farm Sim etc. can be played with just a mouse and keyboard or even a slight upgrade to an X-Box style controller, the same really can’t be said for flight simulation.  Yes, you can certainly fly only with the keyboard and mouse, but I’m confident that you’ll find learning to fly much, much easier with a good joystick setup.  For me, flight simulation is more than just flying from point A to point B.  It’s the extra level of immersion which a good set of controls provide and the ability to improve my virtual flying skills with each and every flight.

If you are going to spend your hard earned money on a new flight sim application, then consider spending a little bit more and purchasing a good joystick.  From my early days with the Commodore 64 all the way up until approx. the late 90’s or early 2000 timeframe, that is all I used was a joystick.  A very good joystick at a reasonable price is the Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick.  Amazon currently lists this joystick at $34.99.  The 3D Pro might be considered entry level today, but that hasn’t always been the case.  When I purchased my first 3D Pro (just a few years ago) it was over $100 and it also works well with Farm Sim.  The joystick will do everything you need it to do from controlling throttle, rudder, ailerons and offers buttons which can be easily programmed to control flaps, landing gear etc.

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Of course, just like with everything else…there are many different options you have in the joystick department.  If you are looking for something a little more advanced then look into the CH Products Flight Sim Yoke and add the CH Products Pro Pedals for ultimate rudder control and precision landings.  The Yoke sells on Amazon for around $130 and the pedals for about $120.  The yoke offers a built in throttle, prop and mixture controls along with toggle buttons for flaps and gear.  Additional thumb control buttons can be programmed to suit your needs.  I’ve had my CH Products Yoke for well over 15 years and last year I replaced my pedals which had stopped working after about 12 years.

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The CH Products Pedals can certainly be added at a later time.

 

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You still have many other cool hardware accessory items you can add to increase your level of realism and fun.  I’ll cover more of these in a later article.  The purpose of this posting is to provide you with a few examples to get you thinking.  I own and use these items in my setup and can tell you that if you take care of them, they’ll provide years of flight sim fun.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

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