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 Introduction In 1925, Rear Admiral William S. Sims, commander of U.S. naval forces operating in Europe during World War I, declared,“Lieutenant David S. Ingalls may rightly be called the ‘Naval Ace’ of the war.”1 Of the twenty thousand pilots, observers, ground officers, mechanics, and construction workers who served overseas in the conflict, only Ingalls earned that unofficial yet esteemed status. In contrast, by November 1918, the U.S.Army Air Service counted more than 120 aces.2 The Cleveland, Ohio, native’s unique achievement resulted from several factors. Unlike their army peers, few naval pilots engaged in airto -air combat. Instead, most patrolled uncontested waters in search of submarines.A bare handful served with Allied squadrons along theWestern Front, the true cauldron of the air war. By contrast, David Ingalls spent much of his flying career stationed at NAS Dunkirk, the navy’s embattled base situated just behind enemy lines,or carrying out missions with Royal Air Force (RAF) fighting and bombing squadrons. He did three tours with the British, all without a parachute or other safety gear, and he hungered for more.The young aviator managed to be in the right place at the right time, and as was true for nearly all surviving aces, luck smiled on him. David Ingalls’s personal attributes played a crucial role in his success . A gifted athlete, he possessed extraordinary eyesight, hand-eye 1. See Ralph D. Paine, The First Yale Unit:A Story of Naval Aviation, 1916–1919, 2 vols. (Cambridge, Mass.: Riverside Press, 1925), 1:vii. 2. Ingalls was one of a small but distinguished group of Ohio aviation heroes that included Eddie Rickenbacker, the former race car driver from Columbus who ended the war as America’s “ace of aces”; William Lambert from Ironton; Charles Bissonette from Toledo; and James Knowles from Cincinnati. Prominent naval aviators Robert Ireland and John Vorys hailed from Cleveland and Cincinnati , respectively.  Hero of the Angry Sky coordination, strength, agility, and endurance. An instinctive, confident flier, Ingalls learned quickly and loved the aerial environment. With a head for detail, he easily mastered the many technical facets of his craft. He was also an excellent shot and unforgiving hunter. Finally, Ingalls possessed the heart of a youthful daredevil, a hell-raiser who gloried in the excitement and challenge of aerial combat. He seemed fearless and quickly put one day’s activities behind him even as he prepared for the next mission. He went to war a schoolboy athlete and came home a national hero. And he was still only nineteen years old when the guns fell silent. Although Ingalls’s wartime experiences are compelling at a personal level, they also illuminate the larger but still relatively unexplored realm of early U.S. naval aviation.According to military historians R. D. Layman and John Abbatiello, naval aviation carried out a wide variety of missions inWorldWar I and exercised far greater influence on the conduct of military affairs than heretofore acknowledged.Aircraft protected convoys from attack and played an increasingly vital role in the campaign against the U-boat.Aviators aided the efforts of naval units and ground troops in military theaters extending from the North Sea and English Channel to Flanders, Italy, Greece,Turkey, and Iraq. Fleet commands, most notably in Great Britain, worked to integrate the new technology into ongoing operations and develop innovative applications.3 As the United States developed its own aviation priorities, missions, and doctrines during 1917 and 1918, it aspired to similar success. Despite his extreme youth, David Ingalls was repeatedly selected by the navy to play a pathbreaking role in this process. He began as one of the very first pilots dispatched to Europe for active duty “over there.” Once ashore, he became one of only three aviators chosen to receive advanced training at Britain’s School of Special Flying at Gosport, preparatory to assuming the role of flight commander at beleaguered NAS Dunkirk. During the terrifying German advance of March–April 1918, he and three other American pilots joined a Royal Air Force fighting squadron operating 3. See R. D. Layman, Naval Aviation in the First World War: Its Impact and Influence (London:Chatham Publishing,1996),13;see also John Abbatiello,Anti-SubmarineWarfare inWorldWar I: British Naval Aviation and the Defeat of the U-Boats (London: Routledge , 2006), passim.The latter is an outstanding study of the subject.  i nt roduc ti on over Flanders.Later that year,he became one of the initial members of...


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