Birth of the Flight Simulator: Link Goes to War

This column is the second in a two-part series about the Link Trainer, the world’s first flight simulator. You can read part one here.


It took Edwin Link five years to convince the U.S. Army to buy his flight simulator. But in the wake of the Air Mail scandal — with thirteen pilots dead from lack of instrument training — the U.S. Army Air Corps decided the Link Trainer was a good investment. The initial 1934 order of six trainers, at $3,500 a piece, was a coup for Link — but it was only the beginning.

The Army contract catapulted Link Aviation, Inc. onto the defense industry’s radar. The little company, still headquartered out of Binghamton, New York, started receiving orders from the U.S. Navy as well as Tokyo, Moscow, London and Berlin. The Trainer, built in a basement for Link’s amusement, was about to arm the world for the greatest air war in history.