Heh, the joysticks. The digital ones that were used with Spectrum and C64 were quite bad, didn't last that long, at least after Track & Field or something similar when your 120 kg uncle decided to have a try... Now that I think of it, its quite amazing I never noticed that the character would only turn with max rate or then not at all. Didn't seem to bother the game dynamics.
Cutting off the nostalgia, the joystick I bought for that P233 (1996 I suppose) turned out to be the best damn joystick I ever bought. I think that the CH Flightstick Pro has been manufactured at least from 1991 (Falcon 3.0 has it in its control set, along with the Thrustmaster). Quite a feat for design of that era. Still sitting next to me, ready for a session of Falcon 4 AF. Trusty old thing. I haven't even noticed any sensitivity losses, maybe there is a little more noise if you look at the inputs but that can be adjusted with dead-zone and recalibration.
According to my eyes, the thing which breaks the joysticks is slamming it hard to the other side. With a joystick that pits excessive forces against your force, the urge to do that is much higher. My old room mate had his shiny new joystick broken and tried this old CH. His only comment was that it felt too easy to move the thing. A matter of sensitivity, perhaps? I never had a problem with that, though. Calibrating the joystick so that it hits the software limit before the physical limit along any axis will surely help also. I have never used force-feedback systems, I cannot comment on those.
Funny thing those helicopter simulations, I never noticed I had to keep the collective in a single position when flying Janes' Longbow. I apparently did, but it belonged to the excitement of staying away from the SAMs that it went off unregistered. As a side note, it was the most boring military simulator I ever played.
Also, I recall some unfortunate bombing flight in F4AF where the bird took some serious damage from a nearby flak and partially lost the control surfaces. Thougths went somehow like this when using the trims: "Pitch control... Yaw control... Roll control... straighten dammit!" "Pitch and Roll to maximum!" "Counter the rotation and nose!" I still had to apply some force on the joystick during the flight back to base. That took one hour, by the way, and was not boring, quite contrary: "How the hell I'm going to put this back to the plate??!!" The landing is another story, that involving quite creative use of rudder and throttle, and a couple of missed approaches.
I only say you have weak hands. [/Slams door and runs away]