The Aviator Flight Stick (AV8R-02) is a one-piece unit that comes straight out of the box. The only additional hardware associated with it, is an optional / detachable wrist rest that can be screwed onto the stick. I did not use this as I found it unnecessary for the way I held the stick.
Installation and Documentation
Unpack, plug in and play. That’s pretty well it.
I found that playing flight games using the stick a whole lot easier than fumbling with the various controls on a standard controller. Having an aircrew background, flying with the stick just felt natural.
Of course with this being for the X-Box….the standard colour coded buttons are there. This time there is a different configuration as the A button is the trigger and the B, Y and X buttons are located on top of the stick. The X button is covered with a safety toggle for an authentic looking “raise before pressing” release feature. There is also a “Chinese Hat” on top of the stick to allow you to change your point of view.
But wait….the remaining controller buttons are facing you on the base of the unit. The throttles are located at the front of the unit behind the stick, but this allows for both left-handed and right-handed flyers to easily access them.
When using this stick all of the controls are within easy reach which enables you to “multi-task” a lot easier. There were times when I had to use a second hand when adjusting the throttles or to use the “D-pad” stick to change weapons. There is also a 2 setting “dip switch” on the side of the base that is used to switch the internal configuration between M1 for HAWX/Ace Combat and M2 for Blazing Angels.
There are some minor calibrations required when using Blazing Angels and Ace Combat. I found that I sometimes had better luck with Blazing Angels in the M1 position vice the recommended M2 position.
The stick itself operates smoothly, making flights a lot easier to control than with the regular 2-handed controller. The buttons are sturdy, so there’s no worry if you find yourself jamming on them as you fly. The twist action of the stick controls your yaw in lieu of the non-existent rudders.
The whole unit is very light weight. It comes with “suckers” on the underside of the base as this unit is meant to be attached to a solid surface when flying. However, you could quite easily hold it in your lap, but you will have to let go of the base for 2-handed operations like throttle adjustment or pressing the buttons on the faceplate.
The Saitek AV8R-02 has a headset input socket. This is a great feature that is not found on all flight control sticks for the X-Box.
Summary / Closing Remarks
This is one flight stick that I would highly recommend if you are an avid fan of flight games for the X-Box 360. I absolutely love this unit and I’m glad that Saitek purposely produced a flight stick that totally enhances one’s flight experience playing IL-2 Sturmovik. (IL-2 was great on the PC and is even better on the 52 inch HD screen).
With the demise of MSFS 11 and Microsoft’s statement of concentrating more on the X-Box unit, this additional controller may see more use by simmers and flight gamers alike should MS come out with another variation of MSFS but for the X-Box world.
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