Lawrence Burst Sperry (born 22 December 1892; Chicago, Illinois, United States – died on or about 23 December 1923; English Channel) was an aviation pioneer.
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 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.
Sperry was inducted into the Naval Aviation Hall of Honor at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, in 1992.
Sperry Award winners
1938 Lawrence Sperry Award Certificate