Although most modern controllers are designed to be as multi-purpose as possible, so they can be used to play a wide range of games, there are some genres, like racing or fighting, that are often more enjoyable with very specific hardware. The Yawman Arrow targets flight sim enthusiasts and is designed to be a single gamepad alternative to cluttering your desk space with pricey pedals, yokes, and throttle controllers.
Taking to the skies in a plane or helicopter in games like Grand Theft Auto is effortless, because the virtual aircraft’s controls have been streamlined and simplified for a standard game controller. But flight simulators, designed to almost perfectly replicate the technical challenges of flying a real aircraft, ask far more of a player.
That’s why dedicated fans of ultra-realistic flight simulators will often pair them with accessories that turn a desk into a makeshift cockpit, as doing so makes virtual flights more authentic and often easier. If you’ve ever tried the Xbox version of Microsoft Flight Simulator, you probably found yourself frustrated at the challenges of operating and activating the myriad controls required to fly a plane using a joystick-driven on-screen cursor.
The Yawman Arrow isn’t necessarily a replacement for a desk decked out in flight sim-specific controllers, but an alternate solution for those not wanting to spend so much money, or those wanting a more portable setup. It looks very close to a modern controller, but with controls that have been added and modified to facilitate flight. Below the six programmable action buttons are a pair of throttle sliders, while the D-pad has been broken up into separate buttons to make it easier to navigate a dashboard full of buttons and levers.
The Yawman Arrow includes a pair of shoulder buttons, but radically reworks a standard controller’s analog triggers into a pair of mechanically-connected levers that work like a plane’s rudder pedals—when you press one trigger in, the other side extends out, and vice-versa.
Two other unique additions include a pair of vernier-style push and pull sticks on the underside that can be programmed for making various adjustments, plus a dedicated trim wheel that’s used to adjust a plane’s control surfaces so it maintains a constant altitude without continuous input from a pilot. Making trim adjustments with a regular gamepad is something I found particularly frustrating when playing the Xbox version of Microsoft Flight Simulator, although the Yawman Flight website doesn’t specifically say the Arrow controller will work with consoles.
At least at launch, the controller will only be officially compatible with “the most modern PC flight simulation platforms” including the PC version of Microsoft Flight Simulator, Laminar Research’s X-Plane, Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D, and Infinite Flight for Android. And based on hands-on videos of Yawman Arrow prototypes, the controller will also be dependent on a USB connection to a device or computer. That leaves me a little heartbroken, as it means I’m still on the hunt for a wireless Flight Simulator solution for the Xbox, but I’ll remain cautiously optimistic about the Arrow one day getting a wireless upgrade.