Flight simulator is a machine that simulates the experience of flying an aircraft. Flight simulation is used extensively in the aviation industry to train pilots and other flight crew for both civil and military aircraft. It is also used to train maintenance engineers in aircraft systems, and has applications in aircraft design and development, in aviation, and in other fields of research. Flight simulation is used for a variety of reasons, including flight training that is mainly for pilots, the design and development of the aircraft itself, and research into aircraft characteristics and control handling qualities.
The first known flight simulation device was to help pilots fly the Antoinette monoplane. Whereas the earlier Wright designs used levers for pitch and roll control, the Antoinette used two wheels mounted left and right of the pilot, one for pitch and one for roll. Although the pitch wheel operated in a natural sense, the roll wheel did not (this had to wait until the "invention" of the centrally mounted control column or "stick" or "joystick").
A training rig was developed in 1909 to help the pilot operate the control wheels before the aircraft was flown. This consisted of a seat mounted in a half-barrel and the two wheels. The whole unit was pivoted so that assistants outside could pitch and roll the device in accordance with the pilot's use of the wheels, using long wooden rods attached to the barrel structure. A full-size model of the "Antoinette Barrel Trainer" is in the foyer of the Airbus Training Centre at Toulouse, France
A number of pilot training devices were developed during World War I. Some, like the earlier Antoinette trainer of 1909, were for teaching pilots how to operate the flight controls. One examples include a 1915 UK trainer with a "rocking" cockpit described by H.G. Anderson, moving cockpit trainers by Lender and Heidelberg in France (patented in 1917), and the U.S."Ruggles Orientator" by W.G. Ruggles, patented in 1917. Air Gunnery, was another area of training was for air gunnery handled by the pilot or a specialist air gunner. Firing at a moving target requires aiming ahead of the target (which was called the lead angle) to allow for the time the bullets require to reach the vicinity of the target. This is sometimes also called "deflection shooting" and requires skill and practice. Most of the ground based simulator were develop to teach this skill to new pilots. The best-known early flight simulation device was the Link Trainer, produced by Edwin Link in Binghamton, New York, USA, which he started building in 1927. He later patented his design, which was first available for sale in 1929. The Link Trainer was a basic metal frame flight simulator usually painted in its well-known blue color. The Link family firm in Binghamton manufactured keyboard organs, and Ed Link was therefore familiar with such components as leather bellows and reed switches. He was also an amateur pilot, but dissatisfied with the amount of real flight training that was available, he decided to build a ground-based device to provide such training without the restrictions of weather and the availability of aircraft and flight instructors. His design had a pneumatic motion platform driven by inflatable bellows which provided pitch and roll cues. An electric motor rotated the platform, providing yaw cues. A generic replica cockpit with working instruments was mounted on the motion