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Amityville parade celebrates 1st guided missile launch

The Great South Bay in Amityville was the

The Great South Bay in Amityville was the location of the launch of the first guided missile -- the Sperry Aerial Torpedo -- on Sept. 11, 1916, as mentioned on this plaque seen on June 5, 2011. The launch was led by Lawrence Sperry's Sperry Co. and funded by the U.S. Navy. Photo Credit: Alexi Knock

Amityville Village Monday will celebrate the first successful guided missile launch, which occurred a century ago in the village, in the Independence Day Parade, stepping off 10 a.m. at Ocean Avenue and Richmond Avenue.

Lawrence Sperry made the initial tests on the radio-controlled aerial torpedo, a forerunner of modern cruise missiles, and conducted a Sept. 11, 1916, demonstration for the United States Navy, according to the Amityville Historical Society.

Sperry, son of Elmer Sperry, founder of the Lake Success-based Sperry Gyroscope, launched from near Ocean Avenue and Unqua Place and may have worked out of a hangar near the municipal beach, said village historian William Lauder. A plaque near his launching spot commemorates the achievement.

The younger Sperry was a “character of the first order,” Lauder said, demonstrating an autopilot he’d developed by stepping out of the cockpit and onto a wing as he flew over a Paris crowd in 1914.

Sperry, who lived for a time near Garden City, according to Lauder, was killed in a 1923 crash in the English Channel.

Today’s parade, themed “Up, Up and Away,” will head north on Ocean Avenue to South Ireland Place, then north on Bennett Place to Broadway proceeding to Oak Street. It will finish with the traditional barbecue at the Amityville Fire House.

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