Early Aircraft VERVILLE-SPERRY M-1


AvStop Magazine Online



The diminutive M-1 "Messenger" was designed in 1919-20 at McCook Field under the direction of Mr. Alfred Verville. It was intended to serve as an aerial dispatch carrier and to maintain liaison between field units. Forty-two Messengers were built by Lawrence Sperry Aircraft Company for the Army, some of which were tested as radio-controlled aerial torpedoes.

The hook mounted above the upper wing is the one used in the first successful contact between an airplane and an airship while in flight. This occurred on September 18, 1923 over Langley Field, Virginia, when a Sperry Messenger piloted by Lt. Rex K. Stoner, "landed" on a trapeze suspended from the D-3 Army Air Service airship.

The aircraft on display, restored by the U.S. Air Force Museum, is on loan from the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.


Span: 20 ft. 0 in.

Length: 17 ft. 9 in.

Height: 6 ft. 9 in.

Weight: 862 lbs. loaded

Armament: None

Engine: Lawrance L-4S 3-cyl. of 60 hp.

Crew: One


Maximum speed: 97 mph.

Endurance: 2 hours 20 minutes

Rate of Climb: 10,000 ft. in 23 minutes

Service Ceiling: 13,400 ft.