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 1Training with the First Yale Unit March–September 1917 David Ingalls spent his initial months in the navy training with the FirstYale Unit in Florida and on Long Island, NewYork, a process directed by Lt. Edward McDonnell, a 1912 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA), where he became a champion boxer. McDonnell served atVera Cruz, Mexico, in 1914 and received the Medal of Honor for heroism under fire. He began flight instruction at Pensacola a few months later and earned his designation as “Naval Aviator #18” (NA #18) in September 1915.In the spring of 1917,the navy ordered him to Palm Beach to direct training of the newly enrolledYale fliers, assisted by civilians David McCulloch and Caleb Bragg, a small crew of petty officers and mechanics , and an assortment of civilian aides and staff. At the time, the college boys occupied RodmanWanamaker’s southernTrans-Oceanic facilities on Lake Worth and boarded at the Hotel Salt Air in West Palm Beach.1 Work for theYalies began immediately upon arrival, with the site and aircraft guarded by local militia. Divided into small crews, the neophytes studied signaling, Lewis machine guns, motor work, dual instruction, and finally solo flight, utilizing Curtiss F Boats—small, two-place, pusher-type, single-engine flying boats.2 Artemus “Di” Gates, who had flown in 1916, led David Ingalls’s crew, which also included Kenneth MacLeish, Kenneth 1. Caleb Bragg,Yale ’08, gained famed as an automobile racer in the prewar era; took up flying; and kept an airplane at Palm Beach, where he spent the winters. He was an expert motor mechanic and during World War I became director of flight activities at the army’s McCook Field in Dayton, Ohio.The seventy-four-room Hotel Salt Air, erected in 1913 in West Palm Beach, provided accommodations forYale Unit members for most of their stay in Florida.The building no longer stands. 2.The Curtiss F Boat was developed in the prewar period and used as a training craft by the navy throughout the conflict.  Training with the First Yale Unit Smith,and Robert“Pat”Ireland.3 Ingalls made his inaugural flight in early April, accumulating two hours of dual instruction in the first week, and he soloed on May 8. By late July, the unit logbook documented Ingalls’s nearly fifty hours in the air. McDonnell’s work with theYale Unit in Florida and later in NewYork mirrored similar ad hoc efforts in many parts of the country. Lacking sufficient capacity at its single training station in Pensacola, the navy turned to a variety of stopgap measures until larger facilities and formal courses of instruction began functioning. A group of Harvard students and a few others trained at the Curtiss Flying School in Newport News,Virginia. A second Yale unit commenced instruction in Buffalo and a third at Mastic, New York. State naval militia units began work at Bay Shore, New York, and Squantum, Massachusetts. Several Princeton fliers gathered in Rhode Island before transferring to Royal Flying Corps schools in Canada.These soon-to-be pilots, joined by a group of enlisted personnel just beginning a course of instruction in France, provided the backbone of early naval aviation efforts. The navy’s frantic actions to speed aviators to the battlefield resembled the even larger campaign by the U.S.Army to supplement its still undeveloped training system.Four aerosquadrons’worth of pilots trained in Canada in the summer and fall of 1917.In September,the first of 450 fledglings departed for England for flight training. At the same time, hundreds more began receiving instruction in France and even Italy.4 But for most, the shooting war was still a long way off. Instead, the Yalies found Palm Beach a pleasant spot, and when not working, they enjoyed swimming, partying, hunting, athletics, various pranks, and relaxing . The group also began planning to relocate operations to northern 3.These men were:Artemus Lamb“Di”Gates,NA #65;Kenneth MacLeish,NA #74; Kenneth Rose “Scab” Smith, NA #87; and Robert Livingston “Pat” Ireland, NA #84. 4.The experiences of the Princeton-Canada contingent of navy fliers are detailed in J.Sterling Halstead,“A Mission to the Royal Flying Corps,” Naval Institute Proceedings (February 1965): 78–94.The story of the Second Yale Unit is recounted in Ralph D. Paine,The FirstYale Unit:A Story of Naval Aviation, 1916–1919, 2 vols. (Cambridge, Mass.: Riverside Press,1925),1:289–96.The enlisted First Aeronautic Detachment,led by...


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