A Closer Look at the Winwing Orion Throttle F-16EX Grip
The throttle grip in the F-16 is designed to keep the pilot’s hands on the throttle and stick as long as possible. Combining that with the control stick of the aircraft this is called Hands On Throttle And Stick or H.O.T.A.S. This design is meant to keep the pilot in the fight without having them reach all around the cockpit flipping switches. For the most part, using the stick and throttle buttons, the pilot can control most of the system from these two devices.
Winwing’s version replicates the F-16 grip very well. The entire assembly is made from aluminum except for the switch caps. The functions are labeled in white screen print and match what the real F-16 throttle has. On this side of the grip, there is the RDR CURSOR/ENABLE which is a mini-joystick with push. The SPD BRK switch is a two-way switch with a momentary toggle and return to center in one direction and a toggle switch in the other. The DOG FIGHT switch is a 3-position toggle switch. Lastly, there’s the ANT ELE knob. This is a rotary with detents at the start, center, and end of the movement range. All the switches give positive feedback that they’ve been pressed and the mini-joystick has a little resistance when moving, not too much mind you but just the right amount. The rotary is butter smooth and the detents give a solid indication of when you’ve hit them.
As I mentioned before, Winwing has added some functionality to the throttle that doesn’t exist in the real F-16. One example is the MAN RNG/UNCAGE button. While this does exist in the F-16, it isn’t really in this configuration. Instead, Winwing added a 4-way switch to the top of the MAN RNG/UNCAGE axis. Here we have a 4-way momentary switch with push for the comms switch (labeled VHF, UHF, IFF IN, IFF OUT). The MAN RNG knob is an encoder that can be configured as an axis or as two switches in either direction. On top of that is a 4-way momentary switch with push. The encoder has a firm feel to it when rotating it around. There are notches in the encoder that remind me of the notches you feel when scrolling the mouse wheel. The comms switch has a good feel to it but doesn’t have a lot of feedback indicating by feel that you’ve moved the switch. The 4-way switch on top of the encoder has a very similar feeling.
As I mentioned before, there were replacement wheels in the throttle kit. These wheels ride on the aluminum Throttle Detent Plate which, I’ll show later on during the assembly process. The pinky lever at the top of this image is used to unlock the Orion F-16EX vertical movement to move past some detents. When pressed and released it should return to the original position. Mine was a bit tight and wouldn’t return. I loosened the two screws holding the pinky lever on about a 1/4 of a turn and that freed it up. Now it works perfectly.