David Sinton Ingalls
1899 - 1985
First Ace in U.S. Navy History
Inducted in 2011
DAVID SINTON INGALLS was the only United States Navy Flying Ace in World War I, and thus, he was the first ace in U.S. Navy history.
Born to a life of privilege in Cleveland, Ohio, at 17 years of age Ingalls was a pre-med student at Yale where he enjoyed tinkering with aircraft, and enlisted as a member of the First Yale Unit, a group of aviation pioneers. As such, he became a member of the US Naval Reserve Flying Corps and obtained his pilot license.
On March 17, 1917, Ingalls enlisted into Naval Aviation and was called to active duty in April of that year. After aviation training, Ingalls was sent to Europe where he was attached to British squadrons throughout the war. Flying Sopwith Camels in attacks on the Germans, Ingalls scored six victories to become the Navy’s first ace. He received the Distinguished Service Metal, the British Distinguished Flying Cross and the French Legion of Honor.
After the war he received a degree in law from Harvard in 1923, began the practice of law, was elected to the Ohio Legislature in 1926, and in March 1929, President Herbert Hoover appointed him Assistant Secretary of the Navy in charge of aviation. He returned to his law practice; however, serving as a Lieutenant Commander in the Naval Reserve he was recalled to help develop the Naval Air Station at Honolulu in World War II. He became Chief of Staff for Forward Area Air Center Command, then Commander of Pearl Harbor Naval Air Station, retiring with the rank of Rear Admiral.
David Ingalls later became Vice President of Pan Am World Airways, president and publisher of the Cincinnati Times-Star, Vice Chairman of Taft Broadcasting Company and was active in a wide variety of civic, sports and non-profit organizations. In 1983 he was inducted in the National Aviation Hall of Fame.
David S. Ingalls was married, had five children, and died on April 26, 1985.