Link Trainer, in the Malta Avaition Museum. Taken on January 25, 2011.
Edwin Link had developed a passion for flying in his boyhood years, but was not able to afford the high cost of flying. So, upon leaving school in 1927, he started developing a simulator, an exercise which took him 18 months. His first pilot trainer, which debuted in 1929, resembled a toy aeroplane from the outside, with short wooden wings and fuselage mounted on a universal joint. Organ bellows from the Link organ factory, the business his family owned and operated in Binghamton, New York, driven by an electric pump, made the trainer pitch and roll as the pilot worked the controls.
Link's first military sales came as a result of the Air Mail scandal, when the Army Air Corps took over carriage of U.S. Air Mail. Twelve pilots were killed in a 78 day period due to their unfamiliarity with Instrument Flying Conditions. The large scale loss of life prompted the Air Corps to look at a number of solutions, including Link's pilot trainer. The Air Corps was given a stark demonstration of the potential of instrument training when, in 1934, Link flew in to a meeting in conditions of fog that the Air Corps evaluation team regarded as un-flyable. As a result, the Air Corps ordered the first six pilot trainers.
Picture added on 06 March 2011 at 07:17