In­ven­tor of first flight sim­u­la­tor


The Borneo Post - Good English - - Short Story Section -

IN­DI­ANA-born tin­kerer Ed­win Al­bert Link in­vented the first flight sim­u­la­tor.

It was very low tech. Us­ing parts from pi­anos and or­gans, and work­ing in his father’s base­ment, Ed built a fuse­lage-shaped hull with a com­plete cock­pit, and con­trols that pro­duced the mo­tions and sen­sa­tions of fly­ing.

He was hooked on fly­ing back in 1920, when he took his first flight les­son for $50 and walked away feel­ing like he had wasted his money.

Ed’s dream of flight was put on hold un­til the mid-1920s when he made friends with a group of barn­storm­ers who taught him to fly.

In 1927, Ed bought the first de­liv­ered Cessna air­craft, the Cessna “A” Model; a four-seat, 110 horse­power, can­tilever wing mono­plane. With it, he joined up with the barn­storm­ers, which in­cluded some fly­ing aces from the Lafayette Es­cadrille, and trav­elled the coun­try per­form­ing at barn­storm­ing events, do­ing char­ter flights, and even­tu­ally be­com­ing a flight in­struc­tor.

Dur­ing this pe­riod, Ed also de­vel­oped an in­no­va­tive early ad­ver­tis­ing plane with parts from his father’s pi­ano and or­gan fac­tory. Us­ing a punched roll and pneu­matic sys­tem from a player pi­ano, Ed was able to con­trol a se­ries of se­quen­tial lights on the lower sur­faces of the wing that would spell out brief mes­sages for view­ers be­low. And in or­der to draw more at­ten­tion, and max­imise the ef­fec­tive­ness of the ad­ver­tis­ing, he also added some or­gan pipes, small but loud, that were also con­trolled by the roll from the Player pi­ano.

Work­ing in his father’s base­ment, Ed built a fuse­lage­shaped hull with a com­plete cock­pit, and con­trols that pro­duced the mo­tions and sen­sa­tions of fly­ing. His knowl­edge of air com­pres­sion and move­ment to pro­duce sounds in mu­si­cal in­stru­ments al­lowed him to ex­pertly repli­cate the pneu­matic sys­tems of an ac­tual air­plane, and he called his ground-break­ing in­ven­tion “The Pi­lot-Maker.”

With the Link Aero­nau­ti­cal Cor­po­ra­tion gain­ing recog­ni­tion, a young re­porter named Mar­ion Clay­ton in­ter­viewed Ed for an ar­ti­cle.

They clicked and mar­ried in 1931.

Ed later ex­panded Link Aero­nau­ti­cal Cor­po­ra­tion into Link Avi­a­tion, In­cor­po­rated, which be­gan man­u­fac­tur­ing a larger va­ri­ety of flight train­ing equip­ment.

In 1945, Ed was awarded the Howard N. Potts Medal, a sci­ence and en­gi­neer­ing award, for de­vel­op­ing train­ing de­vices that mod­ernised and made safe flight train­ing.

As their com­pany con­tin­ued to flour­ish, Ed and Mar­ion cre­ated The Link Foun­da­tion, which pro­vides grants and fel­low­ships for in­no­va­tors in aero­nau­tics, sim­u­la­tion, and train­ing, as well as ocean en­gi­neer­ing. Later he merged Link Avi­a­tion, Inc. with Gen­eral Pre­ci­sion Equip­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (GPE), and be­came the com­pany pres­i­dent in 1958, where he worked un­til he re­tired and ded­i­cated him­self to study­ing the ocean.

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