It is rare to find a line of products so well built that they prompt only compliments. Such are Spain-based Virtual Fly ‘s offerings. Expectations were therefore high when we received the new YOKO+ , an upgrade from the previous YOKO yoke, for review sent to us by the manufacturer. The unit came well packaged and shipping was fast. In Europe it is sold by the manufacturer, in the US it is distributed by Jetline Systems Corp. in Tampa, Florida. Many authorized resellers carry Virtual Fly products worldwide. We put this review in the Pro section because of its extremely high quality.
Once you receive it, you will see how well packed it is. Likely, the weight is the first thing you will notice, even without taking it out of its box. We got our unit directly from Spain and it was delivered quickly and without issues. As you will see from the video, it came with basic literature, warranty, and mounting hardware in the form of a desk clamp, all metal, and associated fasteners. Here is an unboxing first look video:
The construction is all metal, and extremely sturdy. YOKO+ is an upgrade from their previous, tried and tested YOKO. In this new model, however, the sensors are Hall effect-driven. That means no potentiometers or mechanical parts to sense the position of the control axes. Rather, they use digital chips mounted on each axis which respond to distance from magnets. In the Hall effect, the chip output voltage is directly proportional to the magnetic field strength through it, eliminating any mechanical points of failure. The sensitivity is also greatly enhanced. The ergonomics on the yoke handles are very natural, with the hand falling naturally on the contour of the grip. The grip is cast aluminum. New for this model, an 8 position hat-switch on the left. There is also a first-officer edition that mounts it on the right. The left side also has the elevator trim switch and the ATC PTT button. The right grip has an L/R trim button you can configure as rudder or aileron (likely rudder), and the A/P disconnect button in front. The quality of the finish is simply superb. Virtual Fly’s Oscar Mateos also noted that the movement resolution is much enhanced (4096 values) and that the internal wiring is now rated for lifetime use.
Opening the cabinet, we noted two immediate things. How well laid-out this yoke is, and how clever the design. The shaft is suspended across two large bearings, allowing for the rotational (bank) movement. The main frame carries a substructure which moves back and forward providing the pitch movement. Three sturdy bungees return the unit into a centered position, which falls reliably in the same spot for as long as we tried. While this is a welcome feature assuming that the user flies hand off and trims using the rocker switches, we found the bungee resistance a bit too high. It takes quite a bit of force to move the yoke to the extreme positions. Considering that the pitch axis has a travel of 5 1/8″ or 130mm, which is, by all standards, huge. You will have to exercise some force to move it full travel. We would have liked some adjustment on the tension of the bungees for two reasons: first to be able to loosen them up to accommodate different strength levels, and secondly to recover some of the slack that inevitably will build up with age and use. Apart from that, the ergonomics and the construction are absolutely great.
Connecting the YOKO+ to our test X-Plane 11 sim was a snap. The unit is immediately recognized and the setup is easy. The hat switch was already set for views and we calibrated and configured the two axes and all the switches in less than two minutes. Once we fired the sim, we were quite satisfied with the level of realism that it offers. YOKO+ is a lot closer to a real airplane yoke than to a sim control.
In the ratings section, we could have easily given 100 points to everything this unit offers, but we thought that the bungee tension deserves some attention. We also think that it would be great, and this is just a suggestion, if this yoke would come with a front flat flange to be mounted directly on a panel. We find that the clamped cabinet style is what people would want most of the time when they use a desk but that, at this price level, some may opt for a full stand-alone panel at some point in the future, to make their investment even more realistic. The option would be great and would require a slight reconfiguration of the top of the cabinet without the protruding lip it has now. This option would offer some additional mounting flexibility.
Talking about the price level, this is obviously an expensive piece of equipment. At approximately $1,100 in the US and € 995, YOKO+ is on par with the quality it offers. Lastly, the typical limited and official warranty that comes with all Virtual Fly products is two years. However, Virtual Fly ‘guarantees’ that their products are of lifetime use, and points to comments, reviews, and customer satisfaction ratings to prove it. As for repairs, the technical team is available 24/7/365 from the day of purchase for any repairs and issues related to materials, calibration or any problems the product may have. In the USA, the official distributor, Jetline Systems, takes care of the repairs. Virtual Fly deals with its products’ care and repairs for the rest of the world.
YOKO+ is a beauty and sim pilots will be thrilled to fly it. It should appeal to flight schools looking for heavy-duty, virtually unbreakable equipment as well as to the personal user. There are already panels available to host it in style, our favorite being the SLAVX. It also should appeal to those flying in mixed reality, as it is sturdy, predictable and the buttons fall easily within reach when essentially you can’t see them while wearing VR goggles. To top it all off, their customer service is outstanding and they are eager to assist and support their customers. From us at AFSBI, this is a highly recommended product and it surely earns our official seal of approval.