Laura Ingalls (aviator)

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Laura Houghtaling Ingalls
Laura Ingalls aviator 2a.jpg
Born (1893-12-14)December 14, 1893
Brooklyn, New York
Died January 10, 1967(1967-01-10) (aged 73)
Burbank, California
Nationality American
Known for Harmon Trophy
Parent(s) Francis Abbott Ingalls I
Martha Houghtaling
Ingalls, Laura (4729134272).jpg
Ingalls, Laura (4729134014).jpg
Ingalls, Laura (4728488063).jpg

Laura Houghtaling Ingalls (December 14, 1893 – January 10, 1967) was a pilot who won the Harmon Trophy.


She was born in Brooklyn, New York on December 14, 1893 to Francis Abbott Ingalls I and Martha Houghtaling (1865–19??). Martha was the daughter of David Harrison Houghtaling of Kingston, New York, who was a descendant of Jan Willemsen Hoogteling, who arrived in New Amsterdam on May 9, 1661.

Regarding her mother, Laura wrote: "My mother, partly through ill health, was extremely emotional and without adequate self-discipline; spoiled by her parents who thought she was wonderful and could do anything. Brilliant along certain lines, she possessed the trait I find most exciting in the American character, viz. the ability to hurdle difficulties and achieve the reputedly impossible. I grew up under such influence."


Her brother was Francis Abbott Ingalls II (1895–19??) who was also born in Brooklyn. Francis registered for the draft while he was attending military school in Tuxedo Park, New York as a private in the infantry. He was an officer in both World War I and World War II. Francis married Mabel Morgan Satterlee (1901–1993) on September 19, 1926. Mabel was the daughter of Herbert Livingston Satterlee and Louisa Pierpont Morgan, the daughter of J. P. Morgan.


Her most well-known flights were made in 1934 and earned her a Harmon Trophy. Ingalls flew in a Lockheed Air Express [1] from Mexico to Chile, over the Andes Mountains to Rio de Janeiro, to Cuba and then to Floyd Bennett Field in New York, marking the first flight over the Andes by an American woman, the first solo flight around South America in a landplane, the first flight by a woman from North America to South America, and setting a woman's distance record of 17,000 miles.

Convicted spy[edit]

In December 1941, Ingalls was charged by a grand jury with serving as a publicity agent for the Nazi government – specifically, accepting unknown payments from Baron Ulrich von Gienanth (Ulrich Freiherr von Gienanth) of the German Embassy since March of that year. Her failure to register as a German agent violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938. During the trial it came out that von Gienanth had encouraged Ingalls's participation in the non-interventionist America First Committee, a significant embarrassment for that organization.[2]

Found guilty, she was sentenced on February 20, 1942, to between eight months and two years. She was transferred from the District of Columbia jail to the West Virginia Women's Reformatory in Alderson, West Virginia on July 14, 1943.

Ingalls was released on October 5, 1943. Ingalls applied for a presidential pardon and her application was supported by Edward V. Rickenbacker, but she was never able to receive clemency.[3]


She died on January 10, 1967 in Burbank, California, aged 73.

Aviation records[edit]

  • Longest solo flight ever made by a woman at 17,000 miles
  • First solo flight by a woman from North to South America
  • First solo flight around South America by man or woman
  • First complete flight by a land plane around South America by a man or woman.
  • First American woman to fly the Andes solo


  • 1903-12-14 – Was born
  • 1928-12-23 – Soloed on Roosevelt Field, Mineola, Long Island
  • 1929 – Enrolled in Universal Flying School at Lambert–St. Louis Field in June
  • 1929 – Obtained Limited Commercial license from Department of Commerce in September
  • 1930-04-12 – Obtained Transport license from Department of Commerce
  • 1930 Graduated from Universal Flying School Transport course with score of 98, was only girl in the School
  • 1930-05-04 – Established women's loop record in a D.H. Gipsy Moth over Lambert–St. Louis Field – 344 loops. Previous record was 47 loops
  • 1930-05-26 – Bettered first loop record at Muskogee, Oklahoma by making 980 consecutive continuous loops in 3:40 in her D.H. Gipsy Moth
  • 1930-08-13 – Established world barrel-roll record for men and women of 714 rolls over Lambert–St. Louis Field in her D.H. Gipsy Moth
  • 1930 – Won third place Women's Dixie Derby from Washington, D.C. to Chicago, Illinois winning $800 in August and September
  • 1930 – Established first women's transcontinental round trip record between Roosevelt Field and Grand Central Air Terminal, Glendale, California and return. Time 30:25 to California; 25:20 on return flight to Roosevelt Field. Airplane: D.H. Gipsy Moth in October
  • 1934 – Was granted 3rd Class Radio Telephone license with authority to use code (call letters KHTJQ) in January
  • 1934-02-28 – Took off from North Beach Airport, Jackson Heights, New York in Lockheed Air Express for flight to South America
  • 1934-03-08 – Took off from Miami for Havana, Cuba. Crossed the Caribbean Sea to Mérida, Yucatán. Continued down through Central America to France Field, Cristóbal, Panama
  • 1934-03-13 – Flew non-stop from France Field, Cristobal, Canal Zone to Talara, Peru, a distance of 1296 miles – 460 miles over water. Continued down the West coast of South America to Santiago, Chile
  • 1934-03-21 – Crossed the Andes at an altitude of 18,000 feet through the Uspallata Pass between Santiago, Chile and Mendoza, Argentina
  • 1934-04-17 – Arrived in Trinidad and Tobago
  • 1934-04-22 – Arrived in Miami, Florida
  • 1934-04-25 – Arrived Floyd Bennett Field, New York completing 17,000 mile flight


  1. ^ Same article under Timeline, also "L-100 TriStar, The Lockheed Story, Ingells, Douglas, Aero Pub, pg30
  2. ^ "Laura Ingalls Held as Reich Agent. Flier Says She Was Anti-Nazi Spy. Laura Ingalls Is Jailed as a German Agent. Flier Says She Was Anti-Nazi Spy on Her Own". New York Times. December 18, 1941. Retrieved 2012-10-24. Laura Ingalls, woman flier, was arraigned before a United States Commissioner today, charged with being a paid agent of the German Government and as such failing to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. ... 
  3. ^ PARDON POWER: The Intersection of Mercy and Athleticism

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • New York Times; May 4, 1930 "Laura Ingalls Makes 344 Loops in a Row; New York Flier Sets Record at St. Louis. St. Louis, May 3, 1930 (AP) Miss Laura Ingalls, 25 years old, of New York City, established a new women's record for consecutive loops in an airplane, executing 344 loops ... "
  • New York Times; August 14, 1930 "Laura Ingalls Rolls Plane 714 Times"
  • New York Times; October 6, 1930 "Laura Ingalls Flying To Coast For Record; Aviatrix Seeking Women's Continental Mark Reaches St. Louis After Take-Off Here."
  • New York Times; October 16, 1942 "No Laura Ingalls Parole. Board Rejects Plea In Case Of German Agent."