22 December 1892|
Chicago, Illinois, USA
|Died||23 December 1923
|Known for||invention of the first autopilot and artificial horizon|
He was the third son of gyrocompass co-inventor Elmer Ambrose Sperry and his wife Zula. Sperry invented the first autopilot, which he demonstrated with startling success in France in 1914. Sperry is also credited with developing the artificial horizon still used on most aircraft in the early 21st century.
On 23 December 1923 Sperry took off amid fog in a Verville-Sperry M-1 Messenger from the United Kingdom headed for France but never reached his destination. His body was found in the English Channel on 11 January 1924.
A website using the name Mile High Club regards Lawrence Sperry as the "Club's" "founder", along with "socialite Mrs. Waldo Polk" citing their possibly apocryphal flight in an autopilot-equipped Curtiss Flying Boat near New York in November 1916.
"Why, Mrs Pierce and I didn’t have what you might dignify by calling a real accident. It was only a trivial mishap. We decided to land on the water and came down perfectly from a height of 600 feet and would have made a perfect landing had not the hull of our machine struck one of the stakes that dot the water, which staved a hole in it."
Sperry Award winners
- 1938 Russell C. Newhouse
- "Elmer Sperry Dies. Famous Inventor". New York Times. June 17, 1930. Retrieved 2012-12-21. "Another son, Lawrence B., lost his life in 1925 while flying over the North Sea in a plane of his own design. ..."
- Scheck, William, Lawrence Sperry: Autopilot Inventor and Aviation Innovator, historynet.com, reprint of November 2004 article in Aviation History, retrieved 21 March 2009
- About MHC: Founding Member. Milehighclub.com (1997-10-13). Retrieved on 2011-11-17.
- Check-Six.com – The First at a "Mile High"
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