A new display for the Link Trainer

One of the newest displays at the Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton, Alta., is based on the famous Link Trainer, used to provide simulation training for pilots during the Second World War.

The Link Trainer display at the museum includes two of the trainers as well as the adjacent equipment such as the “crab” used at a desk to plot the simulated flights, and the intercom radio for instructors to speak with trainees in the simulated cockpit. John Chalmers Photo
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A far cry from today’s simulators for jet airliners and other aircraft, the Link Trainer was produced from the 1930s to the 1950s by Link Aviation Devices, founded by Edwin Link. It’s probably a safe bet that the trainer was used by most pilot trainees in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

The Link Trainer display at the museum includes two of the trainers as well as the adjacent equipment such as the “crab” used at a desk to plot the simulated flights, and the intercom radio for instructors to speak with trainees in the simulated cockpit. The display was made possible by a grant of $2,100 from the Canadian 99s for the museum, when it received the 2018 Canadian Award in Aviation — an honour that was established in 1974 to promote aviation within Canada.

Something of note is the display’s trainers are staffed entirely by women members of the RCAF. Among them, a mannequin representing trainer Margaret Littlewood is present — a key component of the exhibit. She is seen wearing a blazer with a crest bearing the name Empire Air Training.

A mannequin representing trainer Margaret Littlewood is present -- a key component of the exhibit. She is seen wearing a blazer with a crest bearing the name Empire Air Training. John Chalmers Photo
A mannequin representing trainer Margaret Littlewood is present — a key component of the exhibit. She is seen wearing a blazer with a crest bearing the name Empire Air Training. John Chalmers Photo

 

Littlewood was hired by famed bush pilot, Capt Wop May, to go to Edmonton as a Link Trainer instructor at No. 2 Air Observer School (AOS) based at the 1941 hangar that is now home to the Alberta Aviation Museum. Wop May served as the manager of the school during the Second World War. An accomplished pilot with a number of licences, Littlewood served as a civilian instructor for No. 2 AOS. Within the new display there is a sign to honour her contribution to the program.

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At the museum, the display is adjacent to a restored Avro Anson, the type flown from the hangar during the war when it served as home for both No. 2 AOS for navigators and No. 16 Elementary Flying Training School for pilots learning their skills in de Havilland Tiger Moth and Fleet Finch aircraft. The Anson also provided multi-engine experience for the pilots. Dr. Lech Lebiedowski, curator and archivist at the Alberta Museum, designed the exhibit, as well as any other display which tells the story of aircraft at the museum. Construction of the displays is done by museum volunteers, who are also involved in restoration projects, including aircraft in the collection.

Deadline for applications for the 2019 Canadian Award in Aviation from the Canadian 99s is Aug. 31. The application form for it and other awards from the 99s can be seen at www.canadian99s.com/scholarships-awards.

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