Research & Development in the Interwar Years By Gyroscopic Controls The fuselage section of a Sperry "Messenger" airplane was converted into an experimental "guided missile" in 1922. Gyroscopic equipment was installed in the airplane to control its altitude and direction of flight. Later refinements of gyro controls led to the development of airplane autopilots. Barling Bomber Wheels The nose wheel and main landing gear wheel from the giant "Barling Bomber" were assembled and tested at Wilbur Wright Field (later renamed Patterson Field) because McCook Field was too small for it to take off and land safely. First Military Retractable Landing Gear The cockpit section of the fuselage of the Dayton-Wright XPS-1 pursuit airplane built in 1921. The landing gear was cranked up and down by the wheel of the left side of the cockpit. Retraction required 10 seconds; extension, six seconds. Patterson Field When McCook Field near downtown Dayton became unsuitable in the 1920s for continued flight operations because of factors such as limited size, the citizens of Dayton contributed $400,673 for the purchase of 4,000 acres of land east of the city. This land already included Wilbur Wright Field of the World War I period (being rented at that time), which was renamed Patterson Field, and a new experimental flying facility was built closer to Dayton and dedicated as Wright Field on Oct. 12, 1927. (The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is located on Wright Field.) Click here to return to the Early Years Gallery.