In the October 1930 issue of Proceedings, then-Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Aeronautics David Ingalls recounted and touted the progress of naval aviation. In that article, he extolled some of the early pioneers by name, such as Theodore Ellyson (Naval Aviator No. 1) and Henry Mustin (father of the catapult launch), praising them for “their persistent, courageous efforts” and for laying “so well the foundations for the future development of our naval aircraft operations.” One name Secretary Ingalls might well have included, but did not, was his own.
Grand-nephew of President William Howard Taft, David Sinton Ingalls had been a pre-med student at Yale University in 1916 when he developed an interest in flying. He and 11 other Yale students met with Navy officials and obtained authorization to form what became known as the “First Yale Unit.” As civilian volunteers, the young men then trained using a Curtiss Model F seaplane and were designated as a coastal patrol unit, in effect becoming a private flying militia. When Congress passed the Naval Reserve Appropriations Act in August 1916, the entire unit, then grown to 28, enlisted.