Real Answers from Real Pilots

Flying with a Yoke versus a Joystick?


I was curious to know the difference (if any) in experience between flying with a yoke (two-handed) versus a joystick. I have seen pilots use both in youtube videos and was curious if one is more popular than the other in airplanes and what the feel is like. Thanks!


I got my private on an airplane with a center stick and then switched to yokes for the rest of my career. I like the feeling of anyone better, but the center stick was fine too. Keep in mind that a yoke is generally flown with one hand too as the other hand goes in the thrust levers. Adam will probably have more to say about this as he is flying with a side stick now.


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I assume since you say “joystick” vs control or center stick you’re talking about flying large jets (Airbus) and not general aviation like a Piper Cub or a Cyrus? If you are talking GA no there really isn’t much difference at all, as Chris pointed out you’re generally flying the yolk one handed. BUT if you’re talking large jets, yes, in my humble opinion there’s a HUGE difference. The biggest difference is most yolks are either actually moving some wires or control service and even if they aren’t there’s some “synthetic” feel built in which gives the pilot feedback as to what the airplane is doing. The joystick is completely fly by wire (meaning you’re sending commands to a computer and the computer is moving the control services) and there’s zero feel or feedback. The sticks also autotrim so as soon as a control is moved the computer will “trim” the control surface to eliminate the need to hold any pressure. Inputs with the stick are incredible subtle and it’s very easy to over-control. It’s really a very different experience.

As to popularity it’s really a matter of what airplane the airline your flying uses, Airbus or Boeing.


Thank you Chris and Adam.


I am just beginning to learn about flying and the controls in the cockpit. Taking an intro flight lesson this Thursday! Can you explain the terminology of the stick for general aviation vs. larger jets? But to understand correctly you are saying that either control (stick or yoke) you will be using one hand? In videos, I have seen pilots have two hands on the yoke for takeoffs and landings. So was just curious


While most GA aircraft use a yolk, as I said there are a few that have a control or side stick. While the “input” device (yolk or stick) is different both have direct connections (cable or pushrod) to the flight controls so both give you the same “feel” and response. Not so on the jets.

Congrats on the intro flight. Let us know how it goes.


Got it, thank you!