Link Trainers were originally developed by an American, Edwin Link, in the late 1920s to teach pilots how to fly their aircraft in blind flying conditions such as cloud, fog and darkness, an essential skill known as Instrument Flying. Link’s family firm built organs and nickelodeons, and Edwin, a passionate flying enthusiast, used his knowledge of pumps, bellows and valves to produce a ground based simulator which included all the normal flight instruments and which responded to the pilot’s control inputs. In this way a pilot could safely practice his skills flying entirely on instruments.
The Museum has two Link Trainers, one located in the Merston Hall and the other in the Middle Hall. The red and white Link Trainer in the Merston Hall was presented to the Museum by the Guildford Air Training Corps (ATC) Squadron and is now going through a refurbishment programme. It is intended to return this trainer to good ‘flying’ condition by utilising the parts brought back from Guildford together with some of the parts from the existing trainer presently located in the Middle Hall. Once the red and white trainer is up and running, the plan is for the other Link in the Middle Hall to be reconditioned for children to ’fly’.
The history behind the red and white trainer is that during the summer of 2005 the Museum became aware that the Guildford ATC squadron wanted to dispose of it. Representations were duly made to obtain some bits and pieces for our existing Link and in reply the squadron kindly offered us the complete trainer. Dismantling commenced that autumn and by Christmas all the fuselage internal parts had been transferred to Tangmere leaving only the fuselage behind. This had to remain because the doorway to the Link Trainer room was too narrow to move the fuselage through it!
One year later this problem was resolved and the fuselage was moved to Tangmere and was finally reunited with its base and located in the Merston Hall in August 2007. The restoration task is long and complicated but much progress has now been made and it is hoped that it can be put into service later this year.