The Beginnings of Simulator-Based Training (from airplanes to heavy equipment)

May 28th, 2018

An early airplane flying enthusiast, Ed Link developed his “Pilot Maker” in 1929 by combining state-of-the-art technology (for that time) consisting of motors, pumps, and bellows from the electric pianos and movie theatre pipe organs manufactured in his father’s factory.

Unable to convince existing schools to “make room” for a new simulator “step”, he started one himself and was able to demonstrate that by getting ready at the simulator first, real seat-time (at the controls of a real airplane) could be reduced from 15 hours to just 2.

Was that enough evidence to get people knocking on his door? It was not. And by 1932, although he had sold 50 units (at little or no profit by the way), all but three were sold to “amusement parks” as a kind of early coin-operated “arcade game”.

Well everything changed two years later in 1934, when the (USA) Army Air Corps was given the mandate to deliver domestic mail. Unfortunately, military pilots in those days were not accustomed to fly in bad weather or at night (after all, there was no need to fly if you couldn’t see your enemy). Indeed, that year, the Army Air Corps lost 65 planes in crashes, killing 12 pilots.

And so the “Pilot Maker” was put to work to help people who knew what to do, do better (in bad weather and at night).

Well at Simlog, we’ve been training simulator pioneers too (since 1999), but for heavy equipment.

And over the years, we too have encountered all kinds of problems convincing people training operators to “make room” for a new simulator “step”.  And for that reason, our products are often sold instead to help existing operators do better, just like the “Pilot Maker”.

Indeed, just like at the Army Air Corps, a new focus on training is often the result of some kind of “accident” or “incident”, when an operator’s bad habits lead to damaged equipment, or injury, or worse.

Still, I’m pleased to report that at Simlog, most people calling us today are acting pro-actively. (After all, why wait for something “bad” to happen?)

  1. They have well established operator training programs.
  2. They want to do better (don’t we all?).
  3. They know that adding a simulator “step” will do just that.

More encouraging are calls from people creating new operator training programs that will include a simulator “step” from the outset. And that’s a topic for a future blog entry.


MS&T Magazine – The International Defence Training Journal, Issue 3, 2010. Copyright Halldale Media.

Published on Jun 28, 2010

Link to a viewer where the article is located on page 24: