Edwin Albert Link

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Edwin Albert Link
Edwin Link.jpg
Edwin A. Link
Born July 26, 1904
Huntington, Indiana
Died September 7, 1981(1981-09-07) (aged 77)
Binghamton, New York
Nationality American
Education Binghamton Central High School
Occupation Industrialist/entrepreneur
Known for Inventor of flight simulator; underwater archeologist; ocean engineer
Spouse(s) Marion Clayton Link
Children William Martin Link, Edwin Clayton Link
Parents Edwin A. Link, Sr., Katherine Martin Link

Edwin Albert Link (July 26, 1904 – September 7, 1981)[1] was a pioneer in aviation, underwater archaeology, and submersibles. He is best known for inventing the flight simulator, commercialized in 1929, called the "Blue Box" or "Link Trainer", which started a now multi-billion-dollar industry.[2][3] In total, he obtained more than 27 patents for aeronautics, navigation and oceanographic equipment.[4]

Early life[edit]

Edwin Link was born in Huntington, Indiana in 1904, the son of Edwin A. Link, Sr., and Katherine (Martin) Link. In 1910, he moved with his family to Binghamton, New York.[1][2][5]

Aviation[edit]

He took his first flying lesson in 1920.[6] In 1927, he obtained the first Cessna airplane ever delivered and eked out a living by barnstorming, charter flying and giving lessons.[6]

As a young man, Edwin Link used apparatus from his father's automatic piano and organ factory (of the Link Piano and Organ Company) to produce an advertising plane. A punched roll and pneumatic system from a player piano controlled sequential lights on the lower surfaces of the wings to spell out messages like "ENDICOTT-JOHNSON SHOES". To attract more attention, he added a set of small but loud organ pipes, also controlled by the roll.

In the 1920s, he developed the Link Trainer, "a fuselage-like device with a cockpit and controls that produced the motions and sensations of flying."[6] Much of the pneumatic system was adapted directly from technology used in the organ factory[7] (in the 1970s Link used parts scavenged from an inoperative trainer to help rebuild a Link pipe organ). He formed the Link Aeronautical Corporation in 1929 to manufacture the trainers.[6] His few early customers were amusement parks, not flight training schools; the early models served as amusement rides.[6] Finally, in 1934, the United States Army Air Corps bought six.[6] During World War II, more than half a million airmen were taught by the Link Trainer.[8]

Together with his wife Marion Clayton Link, whom he had married in 1931, Edwin Link managed the very successful Link Aviation, Inc.[2][5] He contributed a great deal to the Binghamton, New York area, where he set up a production facility that at one time employed thousands of workers. The field on which Greater Binghamton Airport lies is named after him,[3] and there is an original "Blue Box" on display in the terminal.

Link was awarded the Howard N. Potts Medal[3] in 1945 for developing training devices for aviators, and the Royal Aeronautical Society Wakefield Gold Medal in 1947.[9] In 1953, Edwin and Marion Link established The Link Foundation. The foundation continues to provide grants and fellowships in aeronautics, simulation and training, ocean engineering, energy, and organizations of interest to the Links.[3][4] Ed Link received an honorary degree from Binghamton University.[10] In 1976, he was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame.[6]

Undersea interests[edit]

Man-in-Sea project[edit]

After Link sold his company to General Precision in 1954, he addressed himself to underwater archeology and underwater research.[2] Link worked at developing equipment for deeper, longer lasting and more secure diving. To this end he designed several submersible decompression chambers.[1][2][3] On August 28, 1962, at Villefranche-sur-Mer on the Mediterranean Sea, Link inaugurated his "Man in Sea" project by spending eight hours at a depth of sixty feet in his submersible decompression chamber (SDC), becoming the first diver to be completely saturated with a mixture of oxygen and helium (Heliox) while breathing underwater.[2][11][12][13][14] This dive served as a test run for a dive the following month by Robert Sténuit, who spent over 24 hours in the SDC at a depth of 200 feet and thus became the world's first aquanaut.[2][11][12][13][14] In June–July 1964, Link conducted his second Man in Sea experiment in the Berry Islands (a chain in the Bahamas) with Sténuit and Jon Lindbergh, one of the sons of Charles Lindbergh, who made the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic. Sténuit and Lindbergh stayed in Link's SPID habitat (Submersible, Portable, Inflatable Dwelling) for 49 hours underwater at a depth of 432 feet, breathing a helium-oxygen mixture.[2][12][13][15][16][17] Dr. Joseph B. MacInnis participated in this dive as a life support specialist.[12][13][16][17]

Submersibles[edit]

In March 1967, Link launched Deep Diver, the first small submersible designed for lockout diving, allowing divers to leave and enter the craft while underwater.[2][13] Deep Diver carried out many scientific missions in 1967 and 1968, including a 430-foot lockout dive in 1967 (at the same location as the 1964 Sténuit-Lindbergh dive) and a 700-foot lockout dive near Great Stirrup Cay in 1968. Dr. MacInnis participated in both of these dives as an observer in Deep Diver's forward chamber.[13][18][19]

Later in 1968, after Deep Diver had been requisitioned by the United States Navy to help search for the lost submarine USS Scorpion, the Bureau of Ships determined that Deep Diver was unsafe for use at great depths or in extremely cold temperatures because of the substitution of the wrong kind of steel, which became brittle in cold water, in some parts of the sub.[13] Link proceeded to design a new lockout sub with a distinctive acrylic bubble as the forward pilot/observer compartment. In January 1971 the new sub was launched and commissioned to the Smithsonian Institution. It was named the Johnson Sea Link after its donors, Link and his friend John Seward Johnson I.[2][13]

Death of son[edit]

In June 1973 Link's 31-year-old son, Edwin Clayton Link, and another diver, 51-year-old Albert D. Stover, died during a seemingly routine dive off Key West. They suffered carbon dioxide poisoning when the Johnson Sea Link became trapped in debris around a Navy destroyer, the Fred T. Berry, which had been sunk to create an artificial reef. The submersible's other two occupants survived.[2][20][21][22] Over the next two years, Edwin Link designed an unmanned Cabled Observation and Rescue Device (CORD) that could free a trapped submersible.[2]

Death[edit]

Edwin Link died in his sleep on September 7, 1981 in Binghamton, New York[1] where he had been undergoing treatment for cancer.[2]

Legacy[edit]

Edwin Link is the namesake of Link Hall on the Campus of Syracuse University. The building houses offices, classrooms and laboratories of the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science.

Link Hall, Syracuse University

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Edwin Albert Link - A Chronological Biography". Binghamton University Libraries. Retrieved 2011-12-29. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Clark, Martha; Eichelberger, Jeanne. "Edwin A. Link 1904-1981". Binghamton University Libraries. Retrieved 2012-06-06. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "A Biographical Sketch OF Edwin A. Link". Florida Tech Evans Library. Retrieved 2011-08-26. 
  4. ^ a b "Link Foundation Information". Link Foundation. Retrieved 2011-08-26. 
  5. ^ a b "Binghamton Univ. Libraries: Edwin A. Link". Binghamton University Libraries. 2011-02-15. Retrieved 2011-08-26. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Edwin Link: Innovator/Inventor/Industrialist". National Aviation Hall of Fame. Retrieved August 27, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Link Trainer Restoration". starksravings.com. Retrieved 2011-08-31. 
  8. ^ Memorial Tributes: National Academy of Engineering, Volume 2 (1984). National Academy of Engineering. 1984. p. 174. ISBN 0-309-03482-5. Retrieved August 27, 2012. 
  9. ^ "R.Ae.S. Medals and Prizes". Flight 51 (2005): 500. 29 May 1947. Retrieved 30 August 2013. 
  10. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients". Binghamton University, State University of New York. 4/9/12. Retrieved 23 May 2012. 
  11. ^ a b Lord Kilbracken (May 1963). "The Long, Deep Dive". National Geographic (Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society) 123 (5): 718–731. 
  12. ^ a b c d Sténuit, Robert (1966). The Deepest Days. Trans. Morris Kemp. New York: Coward-McCann. LCCN 66-10428. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h Link, Marion Clayton (1973). Windows in the Sea. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press. ISBN 0-87474-130-0. LCCN 72-93801. 
  14. ^ a b Ecott, Tim (2001). Neutral Buoyancy: Adventures in a Liquid World. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press. pp. 249–250. ISBN 0-87113-794-1. LCCN 2001018840. 
  15. ^ Link, Edwin A. (April 1965). "Outpost Under the Ocean". National Geographic (Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society) 127 (4): 530–533. 
  16. ^ a b Sténuit, Robert (April 1965). "The Deepest Days". National Geographic (Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society) 127 (4): 534–547. 
  17. ^ a b MacInnis, Joe (1975). Underwater Man. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company. pp. 53–68. ISBN 0-396-07142-2. LCCN 75-680. 
  18. ^ MacLeish, Kenneth (January 1968). "A Taxi for the Deep Frontier: Project Man-in-Sea Goes Mobile". National Geographic (Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society) 133 (1): 138–150. 
  19. ^ MacInnis, pp. 91-103.
  20. ^ "Science: Tragedy Under the Sea". Time (magazine). 1973-07-02. Retrieved 2011-08-26. 
  21. ^ Alexiou, Arthur E. (1974). "Ocean". The World Book Year Book 1974. Chicago: Field Enterprises Educational Corporation. p. 426. ISBN 0-7166-0474-4. LCCN 62-4818. 
  22. ^ Ellis, Richard (1998). Deep Atlantic: Life, Death, and Exploration in the Abyss. New York: The Lyons Press. pp. 76–77. ISBN 1-55821-663-4. 

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]