Several years ago, the Comox Air Force Museum acquired a partially disassembled Link Trainer. This winter the main parts have been moved out of storage into Building 268 to begin restoration work.
The term Link Trainer is commonly used to refer to a series of flight simulators produced between the early 1930s and early 1950s by the Link Aviation Devices, Inc, founded and headed by Ed Link, based on technology he pioneered in 1929. During World War II, they were used as a key pilot training aid by almost every Allied combatant nation. Following WWII, Air Marshall Robert Leckie (wartime RAF Chief of Staff) said “The Luftwaffe met its Waterloo on all the training fields of the free world where there was a battery of Link Trainers.” As such, this vital training aid is an important artifact in RCAF history.
The original Link Trainer was created in 1929 to provide a safe way to teach new pilots how to fly by instruments. Ed Link used his knowledge of pumps, valves and bellows gained at his father’s Link Piano and Organ Company to create a flight simulator that responded to the pilot’s controls and gave an accurate reading on the included instruments. More than 500,000 US pilots were trained on Link simulators, as were pilots of nations as diverse as Australia, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, Israel, Japan, Pakistan, and the USSR. The Canadian factory was located in Gananoque PQ.
The Link Flight Trainer has been designated as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. The Link Company, now the Link Simulation & Training division of L3 Technologies, continues to make aerospace simulators. As late as the 1980s one was in use at the CF Aircrew Selection Centre in DCIEM, Toronto. There are approximately 12 on display at various museums across Canada.
This winter the Heritage Team will begin restoring the “Blue Box” as a new static display item. Work will include superficial repairs, re-assembling the flying controls and displaying as many instruments as possible, The Link Trainer will then be mounted on a trailer with an array of interpretive panels explaining the operation of this piece of Air Force history.