The term Link Trainer, also known as the “Blue box” and “Pilot Trainer” is commonly used to refer to as 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 at his family’s Link Piano and Organ Company, Link created a flight simulator that responded to the pilot’s controls and gave an accurate reading on the included instruments. (Organs are a series of pneumatic pumps or bellows, valves and controls)
An operator is located at the desk. The pilot, seated in the cockpit, operates the controls. When the cockpit is closed the pilot must operate the trainer using instruments only. Note the bellows under the “aircraft”. They simulate the motion of an aircraft based on the input of the pilot. The direction of the aircraft along the flight path is recorded by a device which travels over a map of the flight plan. The operator communicates with the pilot via “radio”.
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, some of which are on display and operate here at Wings of Eagles Discovery Center.