Curtiss-Wright Dehmel Flight Trainer

By Dave Williams, IAAAF Board Member
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Richard Dehmel, Ph.D., spent a lot of time creating a multi-talented team to design and produce the first one of two electrical flight trainers. He designed an instrument flight simulator based on an analogue computer. The invention was the first to solve the equations of flight and have the controls and instruments of the trainer respond as an accurate equivalent of a real airplane.The U.S. Air Force ordered three trainers from Curtiss Wright for the AT-6 aeroplane in 1941. Curtis-Wright went on after World War II to make simulators for the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser used by Pan American Airways and BOAC and the equivalent military C-97. The computation was still analog, using electric signals and servo motors, potentiometers, and servomotors to drive the instruments.

In 1943, Richard C. Dehmel licensed Curtiss -Wright Corp. to produce flight training devices under his patents. The simulators were the first of their kind, and after five years of research they went into production.

By 1951, an electronics division was formed and a modern plant for producing the simulators for military and civilian use was opened in Carlstadt, NJ. In the first full year of operation, the value of the Electronics Flight Simulator was proven during 13,000 hours of simulator time in which Pan American World Airways trained 125 crews plus 85 Military Air Transport crews. Use of the simulator enabled Pan Am to reduce crew training costs by 60% and cut in-flight training time from 21 to 8 hours per crew.

‚ÄčThese simulators were used to instruct over 250 airline and military crews saving 60 percent of the training costs and reducing the in-flight time to only eight hours.

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