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CH’s new flight yoke and a gunship sim.

CH Products is one of the oldest and best makers of PC peripherals. The company has been making joysticks since the early days of the PC’s existence. CH eventually branched out into more specialized gaming peripherals such as its throttle and rudder pedals, which “Airware” has previously reviewed. The new Eclipse flight yoke is appropriately named, as it overshadows the classic CH Flight Sim Yoke.

The CH Eclipse Yoke ($249.95, compatible with PC and Mac, requires Microsoft Windows 98/Me/2000/XP/Vista or Mac OSX, USB interface, CH Products, is similar in form to its older brother, centered on a comfortable control yoke and a base with built-in throttle levers. Both units sport strong build quality, reliable input receptiveness and buttons with solid tactile response. When flying aircraft that traditionally use yokes, such as large airliners or civilian planes, the CH yokes add a definite touch of realism.

Upon closer inspection the Eclipse quickly distinguishes itself with its many additional control inputs. A triple-setting selector switch adorns the face of the yoke and is flanked by two trim dials and a set of buttons, two of which are illuminated. A pair of paddles brackets the center of the yoke. A hat switch and a rocker switch sit atop each handle. The three throttle levers on the base were also on the earlier CH yoke, but now colored handles make it easier to distinguish them. All these control inputs, plus the programmable buttons, ultimately give the user the ability to map 240 simulation functions to the unit, providing virtual pilots with an impressive range of options.

Although CH recommends combining the Eclipse with a set of rudder pedals and a separate throttle quadrant unit, the yoke can perform all those duties if necessary. The finger pedals can approximate rudder input, while included levers on the base are often slaved to throttle, prop and fuel mixture functions.

Typical of CH products, the construction is tough and the design excellent. The USB inter – face is easy to use and natively supported by all contemporary operating systems (free soft – ware available at the CH Web site provides additional functionality). My only reservation concerns the fit of the molded handle parts, which leaves a tangible edge near the thumb rests. On a long flight, the user will feel this. That minor quibble aside, the Eclipse is a powerful and full-featured device offering great utility to flight sim fanatics.

AC-130: Operation Devastation

A previous “Airware” noted Call of Duty 4’s gunship mission, and now AC-130: Operation Devastation ($19.99, PC, requires Microsoft Windows XP/Vista, Pentium III-class 1.4Ghz processor or faster, 256MB RAM, 250MB hard drive space, 64MB 3D video card, Value – soft, takes that mission’s premise and turns it into a game of its own. Players assume the role of a Lockheed AC-130 Hercules gunner on missions inspired by historical events. The campaign starts with Vietnam War missions, then moves on to operations in Panama and Iraq.

Because the view of the action is always through a monochrome-style monitor, the game doesn’t need a lot of hardware to run well, although it does utilize 3D objects and terrain. Mission variety is driven by the need to avoid collateral damage, strike targets marked by ground forces and defend friendly troops and installations. Dealing with antiaircraft defenses becomes a bit arcade-like but certainly adds some challenge. There are some tense moments in Operation Devastation, and the game serves as an affordable history lesson that illustrates the AC-130 gunship’s awesome power.


Originally published in the July 2009 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here