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xi Foreword Curiously, given the scale and drama of the U.S. Navy’s World War I aviation effort, there are no published biographies of navy combat aviators. Now, thanks to Geoffrey Rossano, a skilled and knowledgeable historian whose recent works include a comprehensive study of the navy’s air arm in Europe, we have a fine-grained, up close and personal glimpse into the wartime career of David Sinton Ingalls, as told in his own words. The navy’s first and only World War I “ace,” credited with six victories while attached to an RAF pursuit squadron, Ingalls was still a teenager when he dropped out of Yale and volunteered for aviation training and service as a naval reserve officer. Like many members of the famed First Yale Unit, Ingalls came from the country’s privileged elite, and like his comrades in arms, he dreamed of the excitement, honor, and glory that modern air warfare seemed to herald. Of course, as Ingalls himself related, the reality was often much different. He endured days and sometimes weeks of tedium on the ground, underwent seemingly endless training, and flew innumerable fruitless patrols over “Hunland” behind the front lines.What to the public appeared to be romantic, chivalrous aerial jousting was in fact a deadly industrial age war of attrition in which men and machines were consumed as appallingly as they were by the artillery and machine guns on the ground. Using a veritable treasure trove of Ingalls’s letters and diaries, Rossano brings the air war to life with informative and unobtrusive editing skill.The result is that readers will have the rare opportunity to see World War I in the air firsthand. In Ingalls’s remarkably clear voice, we hear the range of emotions that often overwhelmed young men separated from their families and exposed to the dangers of flight and combat.We share Ingalls’s exhilaration in the sheer intoxicating sensation of flight and the satisfaction he experienced in successfully completing a mission.We see xii Foreword how he carefully worded his letters home to his mother and father to mask the dangers he faced.And we see how his nearly daily diary entries paint another, more realistic picture, vividly showing that sometimes only a combination of luck and skill kept him alive in the air and got him safely back to earth. In this book, we meet some of the key players in early American naval aviation. Among them are Yale Unit chums F. Trubee Davison, Artemus “Di” Gates, and Robert “Bob” Lovett, all of whom went on to noteworthy careers in aviation and public service.A keen observer of the strengths and weaknesses of the navy’s effort in Europe, Ingalls had great respect for Ken Whiting and Hutch Cone, who oversaw the material and organizational aspects of the great enterprise. Like everyone else, Ingalls experienced loss in the merciless skies over France and Belgium. Gates went down and was held as a prisoner of war, and Kenneth MacLeish (brother of poet Archibald MacLeish) was killed only hours after joining the squadron when Ingalls, exhausted from combat, rotated back to England. Frederick Hough, Al Sturtevant, Curtis Read, Harry Velie, and Andrew Ortmeyer, to name only a few, had their lives cut short and will forever be reminders of the human cost of aerial warfare. I feel certain that readers will agree with me that Rossano’s Hero of the Angry Sky provides a gripping first-person account that incorporates all of the tragedy, excitement, frustration, sacrifice, and ultimately human triumph that accompanied the navy’s Great War in the air. William F. Trimble Auburn University ...


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MARC Record
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