The 5 Best Flight Sticks of 2021

Kick the tires and light the fires

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The Rundown
"For the pinnacle of flight sticks, look no further than the Logitech G X56 H.O.T.A.S. RGB Throttle."
"The Logitech G X52 Pro comes in a bit cheaper than the X56, but it still has a feature-rich design and precise controls."
"If you’re looking for a flight stick and you are exclusively a PS4 pilot, then the HORI PS4 HOTAS is the right stick for you."
"Even though the price is low, this flight stick is definitely not without frills."
Runner-Up, Best Budget:
Thrustmaster T.Flight Hotas 4 at Amazon
"You can use the T.Flight as a single controller, or detach the thruster for a more realistic feel."

A quality flight stick makes all the difference in the world when playing games like Microsoft Flight Simulator and Star Wars Squadrons. Even when you’re playing with the best gaming mouse and gaming keyboard, it still won’t feel as realistic as a flight stick, as the accessory makes you feel like you’re actually flying a vehicle.

Depending on how much play space you have, and in how realistic you want to make your setup, you have a few different options when choosing a flight stick. You can go with a basic joystick style or a more advanced HOTAS setup (hands on throttle-and-stick). You can even attach a flight stick to your chair and add other accessories like pedals to make your setup even cooler.

We’ve evaluated a number of flight sticks, and our pick for the best is the Logitech G X56 HOTAS RGB Throttle. It has multiple customization options, and it works great with flight and space simulation games. If the Logitech G X56 isn’t right for you, we’ve also included our picks in other categories, like the best flight stick for PS4, and the best budget flight stick.

Best Overall: Logitech X56 H.O.T.A.S.

What We Like
  • Tons of customizations and adjustments available

  • Excellent weight and build quality

  • Works great with space and simulator games

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

For the pinnacle of flight sticks, look no further than the Logitech G X56 H.O.T.A.S. RGB Throttle. It includes several toggles and switches that give you realistic feedback, while the stick and throttle have a good feel in the hand. Touting over 189 programmable controls, there is more customization available than you probably ever need.

The black and grey design fits well with other accessories, and the RGB lighting looks awesome in a flight setup. Logitech also included what they call six degrees of freedom, which provides you with analog sticks to help you in flight games where there are more axes of control required. The X56 includes multiple springs, so you can adjust the tension of your sticks to just how you like, and the included software helps with all of your remapping.

The throttle stick has two independent twin throttles for games that allow you to control multiple engines, and it includes a throttle lock for single-engine games. There is plug-and-play compatibility for most of the popular PC flight games, so setup is a breeze. The X56 truly is a standout flight stick, and thus earns our best pick for pilots looking to up their game.

Best Value: Logitech X52 Pro

What We Like
  • LCD display shows in-game data

  • Durable and quality construction

  • Lots of buttons and customizations

What We Don't Like
  • A bit lightweight

The runner up for our best overall flight stick is also from Logitech—the same family as our top pick. The Logitech G X52 Pro comes in a bit cheaper than the X56, but it still has a feature-rich design and precise controls. There are 19 buttons with programmable functions and colors, along with programmable axes, HATs, and a micro mouse stick, allowing you to not only customize your setup, but also the look of your stick.  

The LCD screen on the thruster can provide you with quality real-time data with compatible games, which is a really useful feature. The thruster also includes markings to let you know whether you’re idle or using afterburners. The stick includes a dual spring centering function to help you bring the stick back to center, along with 3D twist rudder control to give you better control in space games. This can, however, be disabled for more traditional flight games.  

The X52 has a five-position handle with grip adjustment to make it more comfortable in your hand. The included software makes customization easy, but it also has more advanced options for those who want to go deeper. This stick definitely delivers in the right areas.

Best for PS4: HORI PS4 HOTAS

Hori HOTAS Flight Stick
What We Like
  • Officially licensed for PS4

  • Has vibration feedback

  • Simple and functional design

What We Don't Like
  • Not as many customization options

If you’re looking for a flight stick and you are exclusively a PS4 pilot, then the HORI PS4 HOTAS is the right stick for you. It’s a relatively straightforward stick without all of the bells and whistles that may be unnecessary for console gaming. 

This stick features a matte black design, minimal branding, no lighting, and buttons that are labeled much like the DualShock controller. The HORI PS4 HOTAS has adjustable joystick sensitivity, so you can make adjustments and ensure you don’t have dead zones. You can also adjust the throttle resistance, preventing you from accidentally giving too much afterburn if you have heavy hands. 

The HORI joystick is officially licensed by the SEIA, so you can make this purchase knowing it will be compatible with your PS4 games and PS4 console. There is also PS3 and PC compatibility, but this is definitely Playstation-focused, including a PS home button on the thruster controls. The vibration feedback works well since it integrates so well with Playstation, which is a really nice addition. This is a good choice for those who look at the more complicated sticks and think “no thanks,” or those who just want to plug, play, fly, and have fun.

Best Budget: Thrustmaster T16000M FCS Flight Pack

What We Like
  • Patented H.E.A.R.T technology for precision

  • Trusted company and developer

  • Excellent software

What We Don't Like
  • Can experience wear over time

Thrustmaster has been a trusted name in flight sim controllers for more than 25 years, so it is no wonder they have what it takes to deliver a decent flight stick for less than $150. Even though the price is low, this flight stick is definitely not without frills. It has a stylish orange and black design with orange lighting to really provide some flair. The T16000M FCS is an ambidextrous stick, and it includes 16 buttons with braille-like identification, so you don’t need to keep checking your buttons. 

This Thrustmaster stick has four independent axes with rudder control operated by twisting the stick. The T16000M includes Thrustmaster’s patented H.E.A.R.T technology, which provides the same high-level pinpoint precision as higher end flight sticks. The included T.A.R.G.E.T advanced programming software provides you all of the options you need to create custom profiles for each game, so you can set everything just the way you like, and then load the profile before going in to fly. 

This is a comfortable stick to use, and it provides excellent in-game performance. You can also add this to other options later within the same line to give you a HOTAS setup, or add rudders, depending on how deep you want to go. The T16000M FCS gives you the chance to get into the world of flight sims and flight sticks without completely breaking your budget.

Runner-Up, Best Budget: Thrustmaster T.Flight Hotas 4

Thrustmaster T.Flight Hotas 4
What We Like
  • Excellent quality for the price point

  • Works great with PS4

  • Comfortable design

What We Don't Like
  • Short cord between stick and thruster

For a lower-priced full HOTAS flight stick that works great on PS4, but also has PC functionality, the Thrustmaster T.Flight Hotas 4 is an ideal option. It takes our runner-up spot for the best budget choice since it also comes in at such an affordable price. 

You can use the T.Flight as a single controller, or detach the thruster for a more realistic feel. This stick works well for all types of flight, and it has a clean and elegant design—black with blue highlights and metal rivets. There’s a weighted base to help keep the stick on the desk, though it never hurts to have a mounting solution. The intelligently designed rudder system on the stick helps you to make tighter turns. 

Well built and with a two-year limited warranty, you can feel safe investing in this stick for PS4, though you’ll want to make sure to download the drivers if you want to use it for PC. It works really well in flight games and adds a level of immersion which is hard to beat. Considering the price point, this is a really nice entry for those wanting to have a bit more fun when flying.

Final Verdict

The Logitech G X56 H.O.T.A.S. RGB Throttle is loaded with features and completely customizable, making it the best flight stick available. The Logitech G X52 Pro is also an excellent option, with a slightly lower price point and an LCD screen to display your game data.

About Our Trusted Experts

Erika Rawes has been writing professionally for more than a decade, and she’s spent the last five years writing about consumer technology. Erika has reviewed roughly 125 gadgets, including computers, peripherals, A/V equipment, mobile devices, and smart home gadgets. Erika currently writes for Digital Trends and Lifewire.

What to Look for in a Flight Stick

Build quality- The materials and internal components can make or break a flight stick. You want a flight stick that has good tension and resistance in both the thruster and the stick.

Customization- What does the stick include? Is it just a stick, or an entire HOTAS setup? Can you change the setup for different games? Can you program the buttons? Customization is important because it gives you more options for how to use your flight stick, and it also makes it feel more like it’s designed uniquely for you.

Comfort- Some flights last for long durations, so comfort is essential. You want an ergonomic stick that’s designed for long sessions. Some sticks provide things like ambidextrous control, grip adjustment, or other features that can make a stick more comfortable.

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