Thrustmaster Rudder Control System. (foot pedals for flying simulations) (Hardware Review) (Evaluation)
by Denny Atkin
If you spend much time flying flight simulators, you know that reaching for the keyboard can be the kiss of death. Serious sim fans have looked to Thrust-Master for relief; the company's Flight Control System and Weapons Control System put most of the controls on the joystick and throttle, respectively. This simulates the HOTAS (Hands On Throttle And Stick) approach used in modern jet fighters. Even then, though, you're still forced to use the keyboard for rudder control, which can be a deadly distraction when lining up for a difficult strafing run or landing approach.
The ThrustMaster Rudder Control System solves this problem by giving your virtual cockpit a set of authentic rudder pedals. Real aircraft use rudder pedals to control yaw - a movement of the plane's nose to the left or right without banking. Rudder pedals come into play most often when lining up for landing, conducting strafing runs, or engaging in slow air combat. If you're shooting at an enemy plane and you see your tracers are flying by just to the right of the plane's cockpit, for instance, a quick kick of the left rudder pedal will likely score a kill.
Unlike some less expensive pedals that place the footpads right next to each other, the ThrustMaster pedals are distanced almost 20 inches apart, allowing you to sit in a comfortable, natural position. (I often use them as footrests when I'm not flying simulators.) They're very sturdily constructed, built of gold-anodized aluminum and ABS plastic, which is good for a device whose main purpose is to be kicked around. The heavy construction and rubber feet on the bottom of the pedals keep them in place on wood or tile floors. If you're using them on a carpeted surface, some Velcro may be helpful for keeping them from getting shoved around.
Many MS-DOS flight simulators support rudder pedals, including Aces of the Pacific, Comanche: Maximum Overkill, Falcon 3.0, Gunship 2000, Flight Simulator 4, ATP, Flight of the Intruder, and A-10 Tank Killer 1.5. ThrustMaster sells a special TSR that will add rudder pedal support to Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe. The only problem I encountered was trying to use the Thrust-Master FCS joystick controller and the Rudder Control System with Flight Simulator 4; the coolie-hat switch on the top must be disabled (requiring you to add a switch to the stick yourself) for the program to function correctly. The pedals worked fine with Flight Simulator 4 and a different joystick. I also successfully tested the pedals using an adapter cable on an Amiga 4000 running Fighter Duel Pro.
Although the Rudder Control System is a bit expensive for the occasional player, serious simulator pilots will find it well worth the money for the added control and realism it affords.