How de Havilland pioneered the flight simulator

Even as far back as the 1930s, de Havilland had thought of an ingenious way to train pilots…


These days a commercial pilot might fly around 100 hours in a simulator before taking control of an aircraft, and it’s easy to think that simulators are a recent invention borne out of the advancement of modern technology. But, looking inside the de Havilland Museum as curator Alistair Hodgson straps himself into a rather strange looking contraption, it appears that thinking is wide of the mark.

Alistair is actually sitting in a de Havilland Link Trainer - an early simulator dating back to the 1930s that was way ahead of its time. This invention, which taught pilots to fly with no external instruments, is one of the earliest examples of a machine; link trainers taught over 50,000 pilots in World War II. The really exciting thing is that you can have a go on this very link trainer yourself at the de Havilland Museum – it’s well worth a go.