Inducted in 1996
Inventor of the Autopilot, Turn and Bank Indicator, and Parachute Pack
1892 – 1923
Known to his fellow aviators as “Gyro,” Lawrence Sperry was to many a handsome figure who might have stepped from the pages of a novel. His contributions were not in the entertainment industry, but rather in the many innovative flight instruments he constantly conceived, developed and personally tested.
Among Sperry’s creations are the automatic pilot, the turn and bank indicator, the seat pack parachute and retractable landing gear. He was among the first to fly at night and regularly flew night flights for the Army in 1916. He was one of the first to make parachute jumps for fun, and at the Dayton Air Show in 1918 thrilled crowds with a bold parachute jump. One of his greatest achievements in the field of military aviation was the development of the aerial torpedo.
Sperry lost his life on December 13, 1923, attempting a flight from England to Holland when his plane “Messenger” went down in the English Channel.
Today there is no commercial, military or private airplane in the world that is not equipped with the basic flight instruments developed by Lawrence Burst Sperry.