Link Trainer

Link Trainer on display

Link Trainer model ANT-18


The term Link Trainer,also known as the “Blue box” and “Pilot Trainer” is commonly used to refer to a series of flight simulators produced between the early 1930s and early 1950s by ed Link, based on technology he pioneered in 1929 at his family’s business. These simulators became famous during World War II, when they were used as a key pilot training aid by almost every combatant nation.

The original Link Trainer was created in 1929 out of the need for a safe way to teach new pilots how to fly by instruments. Ed Link was a former organ and nickelodeon builder.  He used his knowledge of pumps, valves, and bellows to create a flight simulator that responded to the pilot’s controls and gave an accurate reading on the included instruments.

Trainers built from 1934 up to the early 1940s had the a color scheme that featured a bright blue fuselage and yellow wings and tail sections. These wings and tail sections had control surfaces that actually moved in response to the pilot’s movement of the rudder and stick.

The second and most prolific version of the Link Trainer was the ANT-18 (Army Navy Trainer model 18), which was in its turn, a slightly enhanced version of the model C3. It was used by many countries for pilot training before and during the Second World War.

The ANT-18 featured rotation through all three axes, effectively simulated all flight instruments, and modeled common conditions such as pre-stall buffet, overspeed of the retractable undercarriage, and spinning. It was fitted with a removable opaque canopy, which could be used to simulate blind flying, and was particularly useful for instrument and navigation training.