|Flight Simulation \Flight Controls|
2010-06-10: Note many of the links I had for the Cougar & mods were on the "CougarWorld" forums previously hosted on FrugalsWorld - which is now likely down for good....If there is anything specific you are looking for - please drop me a mail - as I *might* have downloaded a full webpage of instructions...no promises though! - D
Just as having the right tool in the workshop makes doing a job quicker and easier, having the right controller (ex. joystick) can make your virtual flying experience MUCH more enjoyable and immersive.
Given that "flying" on your PC deprives one of many of the subtle, physical feedbacks that your body gives you when actually flying, one needs all the help one can get to avoid flying into the ground / mountain, etc. while searching for some obscure key-press combination on your keyboard - HOTAS to the rescue.
HOTAS (Hands On Throttle And Stick) has been used by the U.S. military in the development of the pilots "stick" in all recent / advanced military aircraft. HOTAS allows the pilot(s) to simultaneously fly the aircraft and still access the most frequently used avionics (navigation / weapons / targeting / radio) functions without ever taking their hands off the flight controls.
For the "armchair pilot" - there is the ultimate from Thrustmaster - the Cougar HOTAS . All die-cast metal construction (do NOT drop this on your foot!), USB connection and FULLY programmable - this is simply the "top of the heap" in military flight simulation controllers! Learning to customize the programming of the Cougar is a hobby all to itself!
My previous HOTAS controller, the Saitek X36 (mine was the older analog version) is / was an excellent entry-level joystick / throttle combination with simple, GUI programming.