WinWing Who?

Before digging into these pedals, you’d be forgiven for reading this review and not knowing who WinWing was. Until just a few months ago, I’d never heard of them either. WinWing entered the flight simulation hardware market back in 2018, the China-based company quickly gained traction as it became known for producing high-quality hardware products primarily catering to the fighter flight sim community such as Digital Combat Simulator (DCS). Building on that foundation, WinWing now has several outlets all over the world providing local shipping rates to help customers pick up their products without hefty international shipping rates

About The Author:Sean

Reviewer: Sean

Sean is a pilot with over two decades of experience in aviation and senior technology roles within Airlines and Non-Profit sectors. He’s a lifelong flight simmer and avid VR user, blending his passion for flying with cutting-edge technology. From cockpit to virtual skies, Sean loves all things Tech and Aviation.


Pricing

WINWING Orion Metal Flight Rudder Pedals:
US $304.34

Damper Kit:
US $40.79

Key Features

  • Mostly metal construction with only a few minor non-structural parts in plastic
  • Sold construction, heavy, feels of quality.
  • Multi-role capable:
    • Return to centre – for fixed-wing aircraft
    • No return to centre – for rotor aircraft
    • Rudder axis lock – used for ground driving  (Accelerator/Brake)
  • 30 degrees of pitch angle in the brake pedals with adjustments from 102 to 148 degrees
  • Addon damper providing 25 levels of adjustment from 10kg of force to 20kg
WinWing Orion Rudder Review

Purchasing and checkout experience

Much like many aspects of WinWing, the website is simple, easy enough to use and functional. Purchasing the pedals is where I found my first hiccup as I was forced to create an account prior to purchasing, sorry, no guest checkouts here!  I also had difficulty validating my address as no matter in what order I entered my information I could not get the address to validate. Frustrated, I simply ignored Step 2 and went to Step 3, Buy Now.

The rest of the process flowed without issue and after checkout and a few simple text emails later, I was ready to begin hoping that my pedals would find their way to me and be delivered.

Unboxing, setup and software

Being located in Australia, selecting the Australian store resulted in just a 7-day wait from ordering to delivery. Packaging is simple but functional protecting all components by the use of high-impact foam and individual parts wrapped in plastic.

As no documentation is included within the box, owners are left to either go it alone or go searching the WinWing website to locate the manual located in the Downloads section. Much like the packaging, the manuals are simple but functional, no fancy graphics found here, just black and white with build/adjustment areas marked in blue.

WinWing Orion Manual 1
WinWing Orion Manual 1
WinWing Orion Manual 3

Despite encountering the odd spelling mistake, I found the setup process straightforward and with the assistance of the provided tools, had the pedals ready for installation into my home cockpit in just 15 minutes. As I will mount these to a Next Level Racing Flight Simulator Pro cockpit, I had no use for the support arms and non-slip mat that are also included. Inspecting the non-slip mat, I cannot see how this would favour carpet at all and believe users might need to look at other ways to secure these pedals if they live under a desk on a carpeted floor.

WinWing Orion Build 1
WinWing Orion Mounting

Cockpit mounting is simply enough as the Orion pedals have 4 holes in each corner capable of taking an M5 bolt with additional rails on each side of the main unit that supports M4 size bolts. Unfortunately for me, my cockpit base wouldn’t allow for all 4 corners to be bolted down in the position I wanted using M5 Bolts, so I purchase additional M4 x 50mm Bolts with a few additional washers at my local hardware store and used the side rails to secure to the cockpit.

The last adjustment was the pitch of the brake pedals themselves which ranges from 102 to 148 degrees across 3 settings. Given my setup I settled on the middle option which is approximately 125 degrees of pitch.

PC connectivity is done via a USB type B to type A cable which is provided and is married effortlessly through the WinWing software called SimAppPro.

SimAppPro serves as the control centre for all the WinWing hardware and is where you can control a variety of settings, calibration, and firmware upgrades. At the time of writing this review in February of 2024, my rudder pedals did require a firmware upgrade taking them to version V1.05. The process of updating is completed through the application however a warning to disconnect all other USB devices was presented prior to updating. Following that warning and completing that step, the firmware was upgraded without issue.

Clearly a lot of effort has gone into bringing a variety of configurable settings to customers, an example of this is the ability to create a button press depending on the amount of brake applied or syncing the backlighting of the device’s logo and name to cockpit lighting within DCS or binding the lighting to an axis such as a slider on another controller.

Note: The application must run in the background for these functions to work.

How do they feel?

Within seconds of chucking my hoofs on these, I realised just how wide they are compared to some other consumer flight simulator pedals I’ve owned. 542mm (21.3 inches) which much more closely aligns to those found in the real world. Going through the motions of rudder and brake application it quickly becomes apparent that these are sturdy, built of quality and should take whatever is thrown at them.

Running through the motions of each axis resulted in smooth application and I also appreciated the larger range of motion on the brake pedals. As sim pilots we don’t get the sensation of our application of the brake pedal on our bodies such as sliding off your seat and into the dash as you’ve forgotten your seatbelt (Swear it only happened once officer!) Having a longer play in the pedal allows a more finite application of brake making for a smoother ride for our virtual passengers or our flock of AIM-120Cs. I do, however, still yearn for the day when we get loadcell brake pedals for flight simulation.

The added damper greatly improves the feel of the rudder application and completely removes any oscillation caused by quickly releasing the rudder. Adding the damper takes the force for the rudder from 8 kg to 10.3 kg and across 25 different adjustments takes it upwards of 20 kg of force. While there are many adjustments to the damping, I settled on a setting of 23. However, I did find setting the damping to the highest level resulted in the damping adjustment knob getting stuck which required the use of vice grips to give it a gentle but committed turn back to a lower setting.

WinWing Damping Knob

Adding the return to centre spring for fixed-wing flying is an area where these pedals really excel, a quick dead-zone and user curve added to either MSFS or DCS resulted in smooth, reliable rudder application as one would expect. The brakes felt equally as high a standard and had zero flex under heavy maximum braking (Yes, that runway was way shorter than it looked in the air).

Moving to rotor aircraft and using the brilliant AH-64 in DCS as the test bed. I removed the centre spring which is easily achieved by grabbing the extra ring and with a little pressure applied pulling it towards you and up pops right off. I instantly found having to not fight the rudder pedals and having them hold their position was a welcome change. However, I did find that without the use of a spring also applying force, the rudder pedals felt quite light to use. I found that I could easily apply input by using just my big toe (I think I have regular-sized feet? Size 10?). The damping system does aid here but I still feel there should be more force required. Surely real-world Apache pilots don’t use their toes to chuck rudder in? I found I would overcorrect as I didn’t expect so much movement from so little pressure applied to the rudder pedals.

WinWing Orion Spring
WinWing Orion Spring

Conclusion

Having accumulated numerous hours of real-world flight time, coupled with extensive exposure to a variety of simulation rudder pedals having owned several, including my current Thrustmaster TPR pendular rudder pedals, I am firmly convinced that the WinWing Orion Skywalker Metal Flight Rudder Pedals (With Dampening) stand out as the new pinnacle of pedal perfection in my experience thus far. Despite the light feeling of these without the centre spring, I still look forward to flying in either fixed-wing or rotor aircraft.

They are a premium product and I cannot help but compare them to the much more expensive Thrustmaster TPR pendular pedals that I’ve owned now for 3 years. They easily stack up against the solid Thrustmaster unit and have more configuration options, damping and are $300 Aussie dollars less than the Thrustmaster.

If you’re looking for a set of rudder pedals of high quality, solid performance that’s applicable to fixed-wing, rotor aircraft and land-based driving, look no further than these.

8/10.


Pros

  • Solid construction
  • Highly adjustable, suitable across multiple applications
  • Solid Brake feel with longer brake travel than many other rudder pedals
  • Pricing, premium product without the higher pricing seen in others such as the Thrustmaster TPR Rudder Pedals
  • Partnered with WinWing application SimAppPro provided even more configurable options

Cons

  • Checkout process could be improved
  • No included manual or documentation, have to go hunting to find it
  • Without the return to centre spring, application of the rudder feels very light
  • Load Cell brake pedal? Come on someone do it!