Who's Who - David Ingalls

David Ingalls David Sinton Ingalls (1899-1985) was the U.S. Navy's sole air ace of World War I, achieving six victories in the air in a six week period in 1918.

Ingalls was born on 28 January 1899 in Cleveland, Ohio the grandnephew of President Taft.

Following a public school education in Cleveland Ingalls entered Yale University in 1916 and while there joined the university's somewhat exclusive flying club (its members purchased their own aircraft).  In spite of his youth Ingalls rapidly established himself as one of the club's leading pilots.

With America's entry into the war in April 1917 the Yale Unit (as the flying club became known) was made part of the U.S. Naval Reserve.  Ingalls himself was too young at 17 to enlist for active service; he was therefore not among the first unit sent to Europe.

Once Ingalls turned 18 he soon applied to form part of the second active unit.  Following his acceptance Ingalls emerged from flight training as Naval Aviator No. 85.  He was soon occupied with further flight training both in the U.S. and in Britain.

Ingalls' first posting took him to the Allied naval base at Dunkirk during the summer of 1918 although no U.S. squadrons were sited there nor any aircraft.  Eventually however Ingalls was assigned to the British Royal Air Force's (RAF) 213 Squadron and given a Sopwith Camel.  It was with the RAF that Ingalls served for the remainder of the war and with whom he achieved all of his air successes.

While with the RAF Ingalls served on bombing raids and combat missions, bringing down in total five German aircraft and an observation balloon within a six week period during August-September 1918.  All his victories were achieved while flying a Sopwith Camel.

At the start of October Ingalls was sent to England to help organise a U.S. naval squadron.  During this period he was awarded the British Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC); he was to later also receive the U.S. Distinguished Service Medal (DSM).

Returning home to the U.S. after the armistice Ingalls studied law at Yale and thereafter a post-graduate course at Harvard.  Having practiced law for two years, in 1926 he was elected to the Ohio legislature and in 1929 appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Aviation by President Hoover.

Ingalls served with the U.S. Navy during World War II and eventually retired as a Rear Admiral.  A later Vice-President of Pan-Am he was also publisher of the Cincinnati Times-Star.  A Vice-President of Taft Broadcasting Company Ingalls returned to his law practice in 1958.

He died on 26 April 1985 in Hunting Valley, Ohio at the age of 86.

A 'Base Rat' was a soldier perpetually at the base, typically in conditions of comfort and safety.

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