Hands-On Throttle-and-Stick (HOTAS) controllers employ a joystick and throttle grip set up to emulate the controls in an authentic aircraft (or spacecraft) cockpit. These controllers have always been popular in the flight-sim world, but they’ve taken on a new life in the VR world. If you’re thinking about investing in this type of controller, I’ve rounded up the best HOTAS controllers out there now.
Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS X
With an affordable price, comfortable grip on throttle and stick, weighted base, and detachable build, the Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS X should satisfy most people. It has 12 programmable buttons and five programmable axles so you can set things up how you want, and it connects to your PC with USB-A.
Best Mid-Range Option
Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS
Looking past the otherworldly aesthetic, you’re getting a Windows 10 throttle and stick both loaded with buttons, hats, and sliders, plus twist rudder control and adjustable resistance. This HOTAS controller uses the same HallEffect AccuRate Technology (HEART) system with a 16-bit resolution as the pricier Warthog HOTAS, but you’ll only pay a quarter of the price.
Sticks and Pedals
Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS Flight Pack
If you’d like to add even more control over your aircraft, this kit includes the awesome mid-range Thrustmaster T16000M FCS HOTAS as well as dual pedals for rudder control. These pedals are made of industrial-grade aluminum for a premium feel, and they have the perfect amount of resistance for precision control.
This is a replica set of HOTAS controls from the A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog” aircraft, and it’s built for precision and durability. The stick — which uses the HEART system with 16-bit resolution for impressive precision — has 19 action buttons and a hat, and everything requires the same amount of pressure as in the real plane. The throttle is split into two parts for control over independent engines and altogether has 17 action buttons and a couple of hats. On the base of the throttle are an additional 15 buttons and switches for added controls.
Logitech G X56 RGB
For another great high-end option, check out Logitech’s G X56 with stick and throttle. It’s absolutely covered in buttons, toggles, and dials, all backlit with RGB to help you see when you’re not flying by feel. In total, there are 189 buttons you can program to your liking, and it’s built well with metal and plastic materials.
If we’re making a suggestion
As the cheapest controller in this roundup, the Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS X might come across as inferior, but in reality, it will satisfy most people. It was designed way back in the PlayStation 3 days, but it works fine with Windows 10 and the VR games with the right support.
You get 12 programmable buttons split between throttle and stick, and you can adjust the resistance felt when using the latter. A weighted base keeps things steady, and you can separate the two pieces to sit on either side of you for a truly immersive experience. The HOTAS controller plugs in with USB-A, and it will save up to five preset button mappings for quick switching.
Unless you’re interested in the more enthusiast-focused HOTAS models, like the Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS or Thrustmaster Warthog, you can spend about $61 and still have a fulfilling time piloting in VR.