David Sinton Ingalls (1st ace in the U. S. Navy)

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David Sinton Ingalls

Birthdate: (86)
Death: April 26, 1985 (86)
Immediate Family:

Son of Albert Ingalls and Jane Ellison Ingalls
Husband of Louise Hale Harkness

Managed by: Private User
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About David Sinton Ingalls (1st ace in the U. S. Navy)


David Sinton Ingalls, DSC and DFC (28 January 1899, Cleveland, Ohio - 26 April 1985, Chagrin Falls, Ohio) was the only United States Navy Flying Ace of World War I, with six credited victories; thus he was the first ace in U. S. Navy history. He was the son of Albert S. Ingalls; his mother, Jane Taft, was the niece of President William Howard Taft. He was the grandson of railroad executive Melville E. Ingalls. He was the great-grandson of industrialist David Sinton, for whom he was named.


Ingalls received his secondary education at the University School in Cleveland, and later attended St. Paul's. He entered Yale in 1916, where he studied as a medical student (he would eventually graduate in 1920 with a BA in English) and joined the First Yale Unit. As such, Ingalls became a member of the US Naval Reserve Flying Corps and by 1917 had obtained his pilot's license.

Military career

Training Phase

On 26 March 1917 Ingalls was enlisted into Naval Aviation as Naval Aviator No. 85.[5] He was called to active duty on 4 April 1917. Before heading to Europe, Ingalls received aviation training at West Palm Beach in Florida. On 3 June he was sent to Huntington, Long Island, New York for more training. His training was completed on 1 September 1917 and he was made a Lieutenant (Junior Grade.)

Ingalls arrived in Paris on 12 September 1917 and was sent to report to the Commander of United States Naval Forces Operating in European waters in London on 10 December 1917 and was sent to the RFC training facility at RAF Gosport from 13 December 1917 until February 1918. From there he was sent to the RFC Station in Ayr for squadron formation flying. On completion of this course, he was sent to Paris and arrived in Dunkirk on 18 March 1918. From Dunkirk he was sent to Clermont for a course in flying day bombing and gunnery. He arrived back in Dunkirk on 2 July, where he was attached to 213 Squadron of the Royal Air Force.

Operational Activity

Ingalls was attached to the British 213 Squadron and flew Sopwith Camels in attacks on German submarine bases. He was temporarily reassigned to No. 17 Naval Squadron for experience flying bombers, between April and August 1918. Once back with 213 Squadron, Ingalls began his victories. On 11 August 1918 Ingalls, along with his flight leader Colin Peter Brown, shot down a German observation plane behind enemy lines. Two days later he was involved in a surprise attack on a German aerodrome, which destroyed thirty-eight planes. On 21 August, Ingalls shared a win over an LVG two-seater with Brown and fellow ace George Stacey Hodson.

On 15 September, he destroyed a Rumpler in company with fellow ace Harry Smith. Three days later, he teamed with Smith and Hodson to become a balloon buster. Two days after that, Ingalls lost his engine and knew he had to crash land. As he was descending to land, he saw a woman sitting in a field smoking a pipe. He had never seen a woman smoking a pipe, so he tried to land in that field. Then his engine kicked back in and he was able to fly again. But by now he was well behind enemy lines. As a result, he was able to come at the Germans from behind and he destroyed a Fokker D.VII to become an ace. On a later attack on a German aerodrome Ingalls destroyed more planes. On his way back to base, on 24 September 1918, he spotted a German observation plane, which was shot down by himself and Hodson. His last flight of the war came on 3 October 1918. The following day, he headed home and was awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal for exceptionally and meritorious Service as chase pilot operating with No. 213 Squadron RAF while attached to the Northern Bombing Group. Ingalls was also decorated by Great Britain with the Distinguished Flying Cross and by France with the Legion of Honour. On 1 January 1919 he was also Mentioned in Despatches by the British. He was released from the military on 2 January 1919.


Ingalls returned to Yale and revived an LLD from Harvard 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. He was a good friend of Jack Towers, who recommended Ingalls the job as Assistant Secretary of the Navy (AIR). He asked Newton Baker, a friend of his father to recommend him to Herbert Hoover. The recommendation was a success and he got the job in early 1929. He became a good friend of Herbert Hoover, who invited him to the White House and to his camp. Fellow Bonesman F. Trubee Davison would often accompany them. On his way home in his plane from Washington in June 1929 Ingalls crashed his plane into a fence, but was unharmed. As Assistant Secretary he tripled the number of naval aircraft and pushed for a fully deployable carrier task force. In 1932 he made an unsuccessful campaign to become Governor of Ohio. He left in 1933 to become director of the Cleveland's Department of Public Health and Welfare.

In the mid 1930's 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 by the Japanese 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.

Other interests

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 the aviator, Charles Lindbergh whom he helped solve navigation and communication problems in charting new air routes to the east for Pan Am.

He was a director of the Cleveland Trust Company; director of South Eleuthera Properties; Vice President of Virginia Hot Springs, Inc.; President of the Central Eyebank for Sight Restoration; trustee of Laurel School and an honorary trustee of the Young Men's Christian Association.

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

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

The Ingalls Rink used for hockey at Yale University is named after David Ingalls as well as his son, David S. Ingalls, Jr.

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David Sinton Ingalls (1st ace in the U. S. Navy)'s Timeline

January 28, 1899
April 26, 1985
Age 86