Instruments and Avionics

The success of aviation has often been due to technologies that are often invisible to the casual observer. Aircraft instruments and aviation electronics (avionics) have played crucial roles in the safety, reliability, and efficiency of flight. They are essential for maintaining control and managing performance, as well as navigating and communicating. Equipment in these categories ranges from simple barometric altimeters to sophisticated radar systems, autopilots, and bombsights. The majority of the National Air and Space Museum instrument and avionics collection is centered on innovations before 1950 and is unmatched by any other in the world. Standouts include hundreds of instruments evaluated by the National Bureau of Standards between the World Wars, a remarkable grouping of historic firsts produced by the Sperry Gyroscope Company and another from the Aircraft Radio Corporation. Also featured are an extensive collection of war prize material illustrating the technological innovations of Germany and Japan during World War II.