• CH Products Virtual Pilot Pro Yoke

    CH Products Virtual Pilot Pro Yoke

    By FlightSim.Com Staff (18 July 1997)

    There are not many "yokes" to choose from for us serious flightsimmers. For years I have come across the cheezy ones for $29 or so in a department store or software shop, but they were as bad as they looked.

    For several years now my yoke has been the CH Products Virtual Pilot. I recently upgraded to the "Pro" model, after quite honestly, my old regular Virtual Pilot yoke broke after hundreds if not thousands of hours spent flying the world, battling crosswind landings and perfecting low IFR landings. In fact the moment it broke, I was in the middle of a landing approach in a 737-400. I will remember the moment well, as at about 500 feet, then I saw the aileron indicator on the panel slam full left. It was clear my yoke had given me the last input it ever would - as I suddenly tried desperately to roll the stricken airliner back to the right to prevent rolling over on short final. With enough rudder control and some occasional "flinching" of the control indicators position, I got the 737 upright at about 80 feet. I got ready to flare and before I could take another breath, she rolled violently over on her left side - resulting in impact on the runway at a 90 degree angle that led to one of my worst flightsim accidents ever.

    VIRTUAL PILOT PRO

    That evening I had in my hands a Virtual Pilot Pro. I immediately noticed the improved smoothness in all directions of motion. It seems as if they took away a bit of the roughness the first one had. The strength input was still as good as the first. However the pitch axis still had a lot of pull and "snap back to neutral" tendencies as the first one had. It wasn't bad, just slightly annoying. Any control device I've used has this same unrealistic problem. Real airplanes self center, but in a slower, smoother way - and it depends on how fast you're going too.

    The bank axis was delightfully smooth and not as snappy as the pitch. I would have liked to see the yoke move via bank to almost 90 degrees like real aircraft yokes do. Instead it goes to about 40 degrees. However in flightsims this is enough to control your airplane well. Just make sure you have the VP Pro attached to a sturdy table. The motions will wiggle lightweight tables for sure.

    The trim wheel works well, and I use it almost all the time when flying Microsoft's Flightsim. The trim wheel is sensitive, so care must be taken when using it. But if you're a flightsimmer, you already know about the dangers of overcontrolling. The throttle works great. It is smooth and responsive; making flights much more realistic than without one. The yoke has aileron trim too.

    BUTTONS

    The buttons can be used as brakes, flaps, views or whatever you like. In many flightsims and games you can program each button's function. In FSFW95 you can use the "coolie" hat for smooth panning instead of the famous * keypad combos. In many of the newest combat flight sims, like A-10 Cuba, the yoke really shows its stuff as the game was already programmed with many great VP PRO commands. Always be sure you have the newest Win95 Virtual Pilot Pro drivers from CH as the ones that come with the yoke may be slightly out of date. You can download them from CH Products easily.

    I have seen people attach real yoke clips to the shaft of the yoke for holding charts. It seems sturdy enough to do this, but at full down or in position, the clip may not allow full motion forward as it would hit the base of the unit.

    CONCLUSION

    This unit is of really good quality. Unless you spend hundreds for one made of steel, you won't find one this good at such a low price. You may not even find any other brands of yokes at all as they are not that well known about by non-flightsim pilots. CH has made this yoke easily available which makes finding one easy. I hope they make a force-feedback unit soon (they already have a force-feedback joystick), so us sim pilots can get the shakes all the time!