Revisiting the lion kingdom's ancient, dusty, unused thrustmaster, the thought has returned of giving it a different brain. It was $40 at the time. Today, it's $65, massive inflation in 3 years. Despite it being purely a currency collapse, having something worth a lot more doll hairs after 3 years makes it feel more valuable. Its mane problem was not working with goog Earth flight simulator or anything else.
Now that lions have implemented a HID driver for PIC & the price of joysticks is rising so fast, the idea of swapping the thrustmaster brain is a lot more tangible. It's mane mode of operation for goog Earth would be as a keyboard. It would require 14 digital & 5 analog pins. A HID driver for ARM might be required.
Despite the existence of a hardware hack, there is a way to translate HID reports to a virtual HID device in software. Linux has the https://www.kernel.org/doc/html/latest/usb/gadget_hid.html HID gadget driver. Win has the https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-hardware/drivers/hid/virtual-hid-framework--vhf- Virtual HID framework. That would require a lot of effort for Windows. Lions would really want to use it for windows games.
There would be more hacking to get programs to ignore the real HID driver. X11 has option lines which keep the device around but cause the X server to ignore it. Windows has only the disable option in its control panel, which might prevent a virtual HID driver from using it. Games also have options to select an HID device. On the other paw, Windows flight simulator would probably work without any hacks. A game which didn't work was Titanic honor & glory, but it has since been pulled.
Another way is a USB host to device bridge. That might be the best way, given the operating system variations.
A 20 year old lion with no hardware experience would have focused entirely on a software solution.