I flew 400 hours of flight simulator with controller, now with flight stick

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For the past few years I’ve been playing my flight simulators with my Xbox controller. Now I was allowed to try out the Thrustmaster sidestick and throttle. I’ll show you here whether the purchase would be worthwhile for you.

I like being kidnapped from reality by simulator games. As a child, I came across airplane and helicopter games in various “Gold Games” editions, for which I wished I had a joystick at the time. Then I paused those kinds of games for about 15 years. In 2018 I discovered Microsoft Flight Simulator X for myself. A short time later, the new, revamped Microsoft Flight Simulator was released. The 2019 announcement alone sent the community to seventh heaven!

Since its release in August 2020, I’ve accumulated about 450 hours of play in it. But only with controller, mouse and keyboard.

Thrustmaster has now given me the opportunity to test the new TCA Captain Pack X Airbus Edition. The set has an RRP of €299.99. In comparison to other products in the field of flight simulation in the lower midfield.

Here I tell you my impressions. What it is like to switch from controller to flight stick and throttle after many years and whether it is worth buying such a package after this experience.

What is the TCA Captain Pack X Airbus Edition?

This is in it: The set consists of a sidestick and a thrust lever combination. This product is a revised version of a pack that is now also compatible with Xbox. Good news for friends of Microsoft Flight Simulator, which also runs on the Xbox. The new version of the Flightstick was released on November 2nd, 2022.

Various components for expansion can be connected to the stick itself. Such as pedals (oars), throttles and also headsets.

The side stick

  • 14 switchable keys
  • Throttle (also with reverse thrust)
  • Switching regulator for Xbox or PC compatibility
  • 2 USB-In ports for additional components
  • 1 USB out for connection to PC or Xbox
  • Throttle Quadrant

  • 4 axes
  • 31 physical action buttons (including 13 virtual buttons for PC)
  • Throttle controls and reverse thrust mechanism
  • Spoilers (brake flaps) and flaps (landing flaps) adjustable via controller
  • Settings for Landing Gear, Autobrake, Autopilot, Engines, Parking Brake, Rudder Trim and more
  • my first impression

    After unpacking and setting up, the first thing to do is to set it up. I first connected the sidestick and the throttle to my PC. Under Windows 10, both were quickly recognized and installed automatically. In Microsoft Flight Simulator, I then calibrated the sensitivity and mapped the buttons to make sense to me.

    The first flight: So far I’ve only flown the simulator with my Xbox controller. Hold A for boost, hold B for less boost. The buttons are very limited and fall far short of everything I use in flight and during takeoffs and landings. That’s why I had to reach for the keyboard from time to time.

    Then finally the first flight with joystick and throttle was on. Departure from Frankfurt, the largest airport for cargo and passengers in Europe. After I have completed the checklist for the start and received my clearance, I make my way to the starting position. At a limited speed that I can now easily adjust millimeter by millimeter with my right hand. Instead of pressing “very briefly on A” as before.

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    Arrived at the starting position: First set the parking brake and see how everything goes. Go through the functions of my new auxiliary devices in my head and play through the start. Check again with the outside view whether everything really works and the flaps and rudders move as I want. And then it starts. Begin.

    I miss vibrations when rolling on the track. Only my controller gave me that. But I can now control with two hands what used to be divided between just four fingers. Adjust Thrust, V1, Rotate. After a quick check, retract the landing gear, keep an eye on the climb rate and adjust the flaps and thrust. I now have individual controllers for everything.

    I could now turn on the autopilot with a push of a button, but that’s not the point of my test. So I’m still trying out some knobs and controls in the air and I’m happy to have so many adjustable buttons.

    Things that I simply didn’t get a shortcut key assignment for due to lack of space on the controller now have an extra button. I operate lights for taxis or landings on the basis of the flight stick. Splendid.

    After a shorter test flight, I then prepared for the landing. Throttle down, adjust flaps, spoiler and landing gear ready to hand. During the landing process it becomes very clear that there are many advantages to flying with two separate instruments. Flying works well on the small controller, but taxi, takeoff and landing are so detailed that it works much better with two instruments.

    Do you like controllers more? We offer you an overview of the best products on MeinMMO:

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    My conclusion: is it worth buying?

    For years I shied away from buying flight controllers. Do I even play Flight Simulator often enough to justify such a purchase? That was my biggest brake. I don’t want to buy anything that just sits in the corner. Thanks to the test option, I’m sure: If I had gotten a sidestick and throttle earlier, they wouldn’t have ended up in the corner. It’s great fun to maneuver with it and to perfect the take-offs and landings with lots of small inputs.

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    Both devices are comfortable to hold and respond to small inputs. So very fine control is possible with it. I like flying big planes and the Airbus set suits that really well. But other airplanes or helicopters can also be controlled with it. Thanks to the customizable buttons and controls, I haven’t been able to find a model that I can’t fly with the set.

    If you are unsure, you should borrow such devices or consider the right of return. I myself could not imagine how much flying would improve with it. For me it is clear that I will use the parts in the long run. This pays off especially if you fly regularly. It should be mentioned that there are still high-quality devices from Thrustmaster and other brands, but they also have a higher purchase price.

    I would recommend the TCA Captain Pack X Airbus Edition for more advanced simulation flyers. If you only fly casually a few times a year, you should be able to handle a controller, mouse and keyboard.

    If you play a lot and like to invest in your hobby, you should take a look at Thrustmaster in the direction of Hotas Warthog. As a strong middle ground for PC and Xbox, I can recommend the TCA Captain Pack X in the Airbus Edition.

    For my racing simulations, I recently tested the new Thrustmaster T128, which is aimed at beginners at a low price.