I have to wonder if you guys who think the systems-focused sims of today are just fine have ever read any of the fascinating books written by combat pilots, or where combat pilots are interviewed.
Because whether it's reading about trying to nurse home a leaking P-51 and finding a B-17 under attack, or doing a 100 foot AGL supersonic run over Cuba during the missile crisis, the exciting stuff never once mentions "and then I had to flip the framistat to sprocket mode and precisely adjust my barometric blah blah."
Authentic performance parameters are great because they let you recreated the different tactics pilots used depending on the relative capabilities of their planes. But when the AI isn't programmed with these tactics (boom-n-zoom vs, turning fights, escorting large formations of bombers, turning for home when damaged, etc.), when there are no setups to recreate breathtaking historical combat scenarios, you're missing such potentially rich flight experiences.
Plus experiences like Bob Hoover stealing a german fighter after escaping a prison camp and flying it home. Wouldn't that be an amazing canned mission?
But hey, the placards in my Bf-109E-6 Field Mod 2b (Africa theatre) are all in the right place! And it takes 12 minutes to start the engines on my F-16, that sure is fun!
On VR air combat:
DCS is excellent
Combat Air Patrol 2 - http://combatairpatrol2.com/ (early access but coming together nicely -- Harrier sim)
Nothing on in the WW2 or WW1 box kite fronts right now, sadly, other than DCS's ability to fly a few WW2 planes over modern scenery.