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
Nazi sympathizer
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 arrested in December 1941 and convicted of failing to register as a paid German agent.

Early life[edit]

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."

Sibling[edit]

Her brother was Francis Abbott Ingalls II (1895–1978) 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.

Personal life[edit]

Laura Houghtaling Ingalls was a distant cousin of Little House on the Prairie's Laura Ingalls Wilder, befriended with her daughter; Rose Wilder Lane.[1]

Aviation[edit]

Her most well-known flights were made in 1934 and earned her a Harmon Trophy. Ingalls flew in a Lockheed Air Express [2] 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.

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

Timeline[edit]

Activities as a German agent[edit]

In December 1941, Ingalls was charged by a grand jury with failing to register with the government as a paid Nazi agent, in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938. She had been receiving approximately $300 a month from Baron Ulrich von Gienanth (Ulrich Freiherr von Gienanth), the head of the Gestapo in the US, and, officially, second secretary of the German Embassy in Washington.[3] 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.[4]

Ingalls had been arrested in late September 1939 for violating White House airspace, but was released within hours, after a flight in which she dropped anti-Lend-Lease pamphlets over Washington, D.C. from her Lockheed Orion monoplane.[5] Following the defeat of France, she approached von Gienanth with the idea of a solo flight to Europe, where she would continue her campaign to promote the Nazi cause. Von Gienanth told her to stay in America to continue her work with the America First Committee, for whom she gave popular speeches in which she derided America's "lousy democracy" and gave Nazi salutes. He praised her oratory skills. She had made a careful study of Mein Kampf, on which she based many of her speeches, as well as pamphlets by Hitler such as My New Order and Germany and the Jewish Question, and Elizabeth Dilling's books The Roosevelt Red Record and The Octopus.[6][7][3] She expected Hitler to win the war; in April 1941, she wrote to a German official, "Some day I will shout my triumph to a great leader and a great people... Heil Hitler!" After the German declaration of war on December 11, 1941, she went straight to Washington to receive a list of contacts from von Gienath, and was arrested a week later.

At her trial, the FBI testified that they had kept her under surveillance for several months.[3][6] Ingalls was sentenced to eight months to two years in prison on February 20, 1942. She was transferred from the District of Columbia jail to the West Virginia Women's Reformatory in Alderson, West Virginia, on July 14, 1943, after fighting with an inmate.[6] She was released on October 5, 1943 after serving 20 months.

Prison had not altered her views, however. A few months after her release, she stated her opinion of the Normandy landings:

This whole invasion is a power lust, blood drunk orgy in a war which is unholy and for which the U.S. will be called to terrible accounting. . . . They [the Nazis] fight the common enemy. They fight for independence of Europe—independence from the Jews. Bravo![7]

After her probation ended, in July 1944 Ingalls was arrested at the Mexican border. Her suitcase contained seditious materials, including notes she had made of Japanese and German short-wave radio broadcasts. She was prevented from entering Mexico, but was not prosecuted.[6] Ingalls applied for a presidential pardon in 1950, but her application for clemency was rejected by two successive Pardon Attorneys. On the latter occasion, the reply stated that Ingalls had been of "special value of the Nazi propaganda machine".[8]

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

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Harper Collins, 2016, page 195 and 222
  2. ^ Same article under Timeline, also "L-100 TriStar, The Lockheed Story, Ingells, Douglas, Aero Pub, pg30
  3. ^ a b c Emily Yellin (2004). Our Mothers' War: American Women at Home and at the Front During World War II. Simon and Schuster. pp. 332–. ISBN 978-0-7432-4514-2. 
  4. ^ "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. ... 
  5. ^ Frederickson, Kari (1996). "Cathrine Curtis and Conservative Isolationist Women, 1939-1941". The Historian. 58 (4): 825. ISSN 0018-2370. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6563.1996.tb00977.x. 
  6. ^ a b c d Glen Jeansonne (9 June 1997). Women of the Far Right: The Mothers' Movement and World War II. University of Chicago Press. p. 30. ISBN 978-0-226-39589-0. 
  7. ^ a b Amanda Bradley (7 April 2011). "Women of the Far Right Part 2: Catherine Curtis, Laura Ingalls, & Agnes Waters". Counter-Currents Publishing. Retrieved 27 February 2016. 
  8. ^ Laura H. Ingalls - Just One Flight Too Many!

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."

External links[edit]