by Bill Field


It is well documented that the Boeing 707 brought about a revolution in air travel. What is not so widely appreciated is that it also heralded great progress in the use of flight simulators. Although primitive by today's standards, the first Qantas Boeing 707 simulator was not that far removed from the ubiquitous Link Trainer familiar to wartime pilots.

In 1958, Qantas tasked Bill Field to supervise the construction and commissioning of their first 707 simulator. This was cutting edge work as the simulator was developed in parallel with the aeroplane itself and there were frequent delays awaiting performance data from Boeing. Bill and his colleagues often worked through the night building and redesigning amplifiers to make the simulator behave more like the aeroplane. The team was under constant pressure to bring the simulator into service to free up flying time for commercial service. Frequently they had to rely on their own resourcefulness to get the job done. Amidst the glamour associated with the introduction of new aeroplane, the simulator team often felt a lack of recognition for their efforts. Nevertheless, their contributions were instrumental in further establishing the renowned Qantas culture of technical excellence. Their efforts highlight a time when Qantas prided itself on its self-sufficiency and its ability to do everything itself in-house. Sadly this is not considered so important these days but the culture of technical excellence remains.

Bill Field's story was published in 2012 in Aviation Heritage, the Journal of the Aviation Historical Society of Australia with much support and encouragement from his son Peter and from noted aviation historian Greg Banfield.

In 2013, Bill Field visited the Qantas training centre with his son Peter and flew the 747-400 and A330 simulators quite competently at the age of 89 - after a 35 year absence from the "left hand seat". Bill passed away on 17 February 2017, at the age of 93.

Greg Banfield passed away in November 2016.


This is Bill Field's story:

The First Qantas Flight Simulator

Reproduced with permission from the Aviation Historical Society of Australia

In memory of Bill Field and Greg Banfield




Original issue.