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Lawrence Sperry

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Pioneer Aviator

Aeronautical Engineer

Born Chicago, Illinois

Dec. 22, 1892—Dec. 13,1923

 

Lawrence Burst Sperry’s interest in aeronautics began early in life when he produced and piloted a glider of his own design at the age of 17. Four years later in 1913, he mastered powered flight under the tutelage of the eminent Glenn Curtiss Schools at Hammondsport, New York and San Diego, California.

Although lacking the benefit of formal engineering training, his gift of native mechanical ability, high curiosity, coupled with the urgent needs of the sibling aviation industry, spurred him to produce numerous inventions and innovations that have become indispensable to aviation and space flight.

Among the scores of inventions that bear his name, those concerning gyroscopic stabilization of flight instruments have produced the most profound effect on aviation and space flight. The automatic pilot for aircraft and automatic flight of unmanned vehicles, and gyro instruments for all weather flight are but a few of his contributions. The nickname "Gyro" acquired early in his career was most apt, but his fertile intellect journeyed far into other regions of aero endeavor, to navigation and aerodynamics, to flight safety and instrumentation, and to the promotion of sport flying. Typical of the true character of this man was his personal involvement in the flight testing and demonstration of all his inventions.

Sperry was lost at sea on December 13, 1923, while flying from England to Holland.

Invested 1979 in the International Aerospace Hall of Fame

From "These We Honor," The International Hall of Fame; The San Diego Aerospace Museum, San Diego, CA. 1984


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Updated: March 12, 2004