ASME-Landmark:Link C-3 Flight Trainer


During the 1920s, Edwin A. Link was employed in his father's organ building and repair business. He obtained his pilot's license in 1927 and became convinced that a mechanical device could be built as an inexpensive method to teach basic piloting. Link received three patents on his flight trainer (No. 1,825,462, March 12, 1930; No. 2,244,464, June 3, 1941; and No. 2,358,016, Sept. 12, 1944).

The trainer replicates realistic movements manipulated through the pilot's controls. The basic trainer looks like a cockpit with a control column, control wheel, two foot pedals, and various flight and navigation instruments. It sits on four pneumatic bellows that are mounted on a cross frame. Trainers have the ability to turn, pitch and bank.

Not only was pilot training improved before leaving the ground, but the trainer also emphasized instrument training over visual observation. Pilots would no longer be limited to good-weather, daylight-only flying. Commercial airlines began to use the Link trainer for pilot training, and the US government began purchasing them in 1934, acquiring thousands in preparation for World War II. In the 1950s, the sophistication and diversity in aircraft design made the generalized trainer increasingly obsolete, but the advent of computers revolutionized simulation systems. Later versions of the Link trainer were used to train the Apollo astronauts for the moon landing.

The 1929 Link flight trainer located at the Roberson Museum and Science Center was restored by retired Link employees who had worked on "Blue Boxes," trainers used during World War II by more than 500,000 pilots. See ASME website for more information