Edwin Link Develops the Flight Simulation Industry

"Ed" Link (1904-1981) was born in Huntington, Indiana, but moved in 1910 to Binghamton, New York, where his father purchased a bankrupt music firm. It was here Ed would begin and develop his career as a "backyard inventor in the finest American sense."

In his early twenties, he obtained his pilot's license. While struggling to become a pilot, he began tinkering with parts of organs at his father's factory, trying to develop a training device so that pilots could start learning to fly safely and inexpensively without leaving the ground.

Link was issued Patent No. 1,825,462 on what he called his "pilot maker" on Sept. 29, 1931. Around that time, he founded the Link Aeronautical Corp. to build the devices and the Link Flying School to train pilots.

Not only was pilot training improved before leaving the ground, but the trainer also emphasized instrument training over visual observation. Pilots would no longer be limited to good-weather, daylight-only flying. Commercial airlines began to use the Link trainer for pilot training, and the U.S. government began purchasing them in 1934, acquiring thousands in preparation for World War II.

Edwin A. Link TraIner
Born in Huntington, Indiana, Edwin A. Link, founder of the flight simulation industry, invented the Link Trainer.
Lawrence Dale Bell
Lawrence Dale Bell, who was born in Mentone, Indiana, was the founder of the Bell Aircraft (later Helicopter) Company of Buffalo, New York. Bell developed and manufactured the X-1, which was the first plane to fly faster than the speed of sound.


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The Bell X-1 is First Aircraft to Break the Sound Barrier

In 1944, a U.S. Air Force contract for a high speed, experimental jet aircraft went to Bell Aircraft Corporation. The company had a reputation for unusual designs, including the first American jet, the XP-59A Airacomet. Bell agreed to design a research plane capable of reaching 800 MPH at an altitude of 35,000 feet.

During 1946 and 1947, one test flight after another took the new jet (the X-1) to higher speeds, past Mach .85, the region where statistics on subsonic flight more or less faded away. The X-1 test crew felt increasing confidence that their plane could break the sound barrier (Mach 1).

The Air Force and NACA put considerable trust in pilot Captain Charles "Chuck" Yeager, a World War II fighter ace. On the morning of October 14, 1947, Yeager fired up the four rocket chambers and shot upwards to 42,000 feet. Leveling off, he shut down two of the chambers while making a final check of the plane's readiness. Yeager fired a third chamber and watched the instruments jump as buffeting occurred. Then the flight smoothed out; needles danced ahead as the X-1 went supersonic. Far below, test personnel heard a loud sonic boom slap across the desert.