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Opposite: The Antoinette Learning Barrel Above: The Link Trainer


back to 1909 and was one of the first flight training devices. The original intent was to take fledgling pilots to a skill level and understanding of aircraft controls and movement so that they could step into the real thing and reduce the time necessary to develop their piloting skills. This “hands on” simulator approach continued until the


late 20’s and into the 30’s, when Mr. Ed Link introduced the Link Trainer in 1927. It was a more sophisticated device that incorporated an air source (bellows) to spin gyros and cause movement. Add a magnetic compass and the ability to spin the device through 360° and you have the first real practical flight simulator. With the advent of WWII, serious R&D was spent to build ever increasing capability and sophistica- tion into what was now called an FTD (Flight Training Device). The first helicopter FTD did not come along until


35


Sikorsky developed it in 1939. As would be expected, in the beginning there was no


such thing as simulator regulations or standards. Each sim- ulator manufacturer developed and fabricated what they believed was appropriate for the airline’s training needs. The result was (and to a certain extent still is) that no two simu- lators were exactly the same. Further, they did not provide any incentive for regulatory authorities to grant credits for the use of the simulators in training. The key word here is credits, for without approved credits you would expect a simulator to be a hard sell. However, in the case of the air- lines that was not the case. Simulators suddenly became valuable when their sophistication and fidelity became good enough that actual flight training in the real aircraft could be reduced.


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