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Admiral David Stinton Ingalls

11908 Lake Shore Boulevard
Lt. David Ingalls
Lt. David Ingalls

In 1916, at the age of 17, David Ingalls, son of Albert and Jane Ingalls, entered Yale University, where he took up flying by joining the university’s flying club. The organization became known as the First Yale Unit, considered to be the first naval air reserved unit. The members were wealthy students who were able to purchase their airplanes.

Ingalls was an exceptional student pilot but, because of his young age, was not permitted active-duty status. He continued flying, however, and accepted active duty on his 18th birthday. Ingalls graduated from flight school as U.S. Navy Aviator Number 85. He took a week's furlough to visit his parents along with his fiancee, Margaret Allen before going overseas in September 1917.

On July 9, 1918, he was transferred to the Allied Naval Base at Dunkirk, France, and attached to RAF Squadron 213 for combat experience. The squadron flew Sopwith Camel fighters and escorted bombers in raids on German airfields in Belgium. Except for heavy antiaircraft fire, the attacks were usually unopposed by enemy planes. The Camel’s reputation had made the German pilots wary of trying to engage the faster and more maneuverable British aircraft.

Ingalls, David 1

Once back at Dunkirk, it did not take long for David Ingalls to begin making U.S. Navy history. His war record in the skies over France and Belgium was enviable. In only six weeks, Ingalls had flown 109 hours in Sopwith Camels; made 63 flights over enemy lines; participated in 13 low-altitude bombing raids; engaged in 13 aerial combat actions; and shot down five German planes and one observation balloon. He received the British Distinguished Flying Cross and the American Distinguished Service Medal.

On October 1, 1918, David Ingalls was relieved of combat duty and sent to England to organize a U.S. Naval Air Squadron.  After the war, Ingalls returned to Yale and finished his studies in 1920 and went on to receive an LL.D. from Harvard University Law School in 1923.

After graduating, he joined Squire, Sanders & Dempsey as an associate. In 1926, he was elected to the Ohio General Assembly, where he co-sponsored the Ohio Aviation Code. Ingalls also served as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives from 1927 to 1929. President Herbert Hoover appointed him as assistant secretary of the navy for aviation n 1929. As assistant secretary, he tripled the number of naval aircraft and pushed for a fully deployable carrier task force. For several years, he flight-tested every plane adopted by the U.S. Navy.

In 1932, he embarked on an unsuccessful campaign to become Governor of Ohio. He left in 1933 to become director of Cleveland's Department of Public Health and Welfare.

In the mid-1930s, Ingalls was appointed a lieutenant commander in the Naval Reserves. He was made vice president and general manager of Pan Am Air Ferries in 1941.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Ingalls returned to active duty. He helped develop the Naval Air Station at Honolulu and ended up reporting for duty. In 1943, he became chief of staff for the Forward Area Air Center Command and later commander of the Pearl Harbor Naval Air Station. He served three years in the Pacific and received the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star. He retired from the Navy as a rear admiral in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

On his return to Ohio, he became a director of Pan Am World Airways and managed Robert A. Taft’s campaign to be the Republican nominee for president in 1952. In 1954, he became president and publisher of the Cincinnati Times-Star and vice chairman of the now-defunct Taft Broadcasting Company. He left the Cincinnati Times-Star in 1958 to practice law.

Ingalls was a friend of Charles Lindbergh, whom he helped solve navigation and communication problems in charting new air routes to the east for Pan Am.

David Stinton Ingalls was born on January 28, 1899. He was married to Laura Hale Harkness, born in Bellevue, Ohio April 5, 1898, the daughter of William Harkness and granddaughter of Daniel Harkness, who was instrumental in the formation of Standard Oil. David and Laura had three children: Edith (Vignos Jr.), Louise (Brown), and David Sinton Ingalls Jr., who became president of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and mayor of Hunting Valley.

Ingalls was a director of the Cleveland Trust Company, director of South Eleuthera Properties, vice president of Virginia Hot Springs, Inc., president of the Central Eye bank for Sight Restoration, trustee of Laurel School and an honorary trustee of the Young Men's Christian Association.

He was a member of the American Legion, Chagrin Valley Hunt Club, Freemasons, Jekly Island Club, Kirtland Country Club, Pepper Pike Club, Queen City Club of Cincinnati, River Club of New York, Skull and Bones and the Union Club.

Ingalls was a sportsman and a co-owner of two quail plantations: Ring Oak and Foshalee Plantation, which he shared with Robert Livingston Ireland, Jr.

Laura died May 10, 1978, in the Bahamas. David died on April 29, 1985, and buried alongside Laura in Warm Springs Cemetery, Bath County, Virginia.

For more about David Ingalls one can read the book "Hero of the Angry Sky," the World War I diary and letters of David S. Ingalls, America’s first naval ace, edited by Geoffrey L. Rossano, Ohio University Press, 2012.