A brief history: The Sperry Gyroscope Company


The Sperry Gyroscope Company was founded in 1910, in Brooklyn, N.Y.  By the early 1950s, and many gyro based innovative products later, the Sperry Zero Reader and gyro horizon were combined to form the first attitude director indicators (ADI).  About this time the Sperry Gyroscope Co, along with other companies with a large presence on the East coast, decided to disperse their facilities to lessen the risk from nuclear attack. In late 1955 it was decided that the Aeronautical Equipment Division was to move to Phoenix. In 1956, under the newly formed Sperry Rand Corporation, this division was renamed:  Sperry Phoenix Company. 


In November 1956, while the Deer Valley plant was under construction, initial operations were started in a rented building on the State Fairgrounds.  The original plant facility was 81, 000 square feet and housed 130 employees.  The location was in Maricopa county, outside of the Phoenix city limits. Eventually the Deer Valley facility would grow to 600,000 square feet. The Deer Valley site also included a lease of the 480 acres to the North.  This area was originally envisioned to be a research and flight test center.  Along the way, this lease was given up, under very favorable terms, and eventually privately developed as the Deer Valley airport.  The City of Phoenix, as a result of several incorporation initiatives, took over operation of that airport in 1962.  The Deer Valley airport served (and continues to serve) the many flight test and flight development tasks of the company.  In 1983 a flight test operations facility was constructed on the airport. This facility replaced the use of leased facilities on the far East end of the airport that were first occupied in 1980.  Operation from these leased facilities terminated the need to taxi across Deer Valley Road from the original flight test complex built in the rear of the plant. 


In 1967, the Sperry Phoenix Company became Sperry Flight Systems.  Bob Roe, the chief flight test pilot for Sperry Gyroscope, and originally the plant manager of the newly formed Sperry Phoenix Company, became its first president.  By the late 1970s, the Division employed over 4100 people.  During this timeframe, splitting the defense business and the corporate and regional line business into separate divisions was under consideration. Before the end of the decade, what was to be the interim Avionics Division facility on Black Canyon Highway (I -17) were started. By the early 1980s, the Defense division facility in Albuquerque was started.  By the middle of this decade, the permanent Avionics division facility was under construction on Bell Rd in Glendale. 


In 1987 the Sperry Flight Systems was part of a sale to Honeywell Corp. Near the end of 1999 Honeywell Corp itself was purchased by Allied Signal. The Honeywell name was made the name of the new entity. 


  • The Years of Powered Flight, A Sperry Star Commemorative, December 1978, Nanette Ross, Editor, Sperry Flight Systems