Laura Ingalls

 

Laura Ingalls: Pilot and Spy

  In my Aunt Vicky’s memorabilia I found two newspaper articles about Laura Ingalls, a pioneer pilot that is mostly forgotten today. The article is dated March 9, 1934 and Laura is dressed in her flying clothes to fly through Central and South America. It was titled “Flying Over Sea.” I wonder if Vicky and Laura were friends or maybe my aunt just admired her. This newspaper article said she was going on a trip across the Andes in South America. She is well-known for that flight.actress and dancer and later became a very powerful public speaker. Her family would never understand how she became a speaker in favor of the Nazi party.

Laura was born in 1893 in Brooklyn, New York. Her family was wealthy and Laura lived a privileged life. She attended private schools and studied language and music overseas. She was an  Laura completed her first solo flight from Roosevelt Field in 1928. My Aunt Vicky completed her solo from the same field in 1930. This is the flying field where Lindbergh and Amelia took off. In 1929 Laura earned her Limited Commercial license. Then in 1930 she earned her transport license. Vicky only had a private license. That meant she couldn’t carry passengers. She must have upgraded it to a transport license when she had her flying school.

 The Department of commerce’s Aeronautics Branch awarded her a federal commercial license. Laura’s most important record happened in 1935  when she flew across the continent for 30 hours from east to west and West to east in 25 hours. She even beat Amelia Earhart’s record.

  Stunt flying was very popular after World War 1. The Jenny was used in the war were now being used by stunt pilots. Many were officers during the war and now had to earn a living. Women also performed stunts by themselves and with their husbands.

  Laura was one of those women who became a stunt pilot. 1930 was her year for record breaking. She set a women’s record for 930 loops. She also broke the men and women’s record when she did 714 barrel rolls.

  Laura is known for being the first woman to fly over the Andes. In 1934 she became known as the first woman who flew from North America to South America. In that same year she was honored as the most outstanding woman pilot and won the coveted Harmon Trophy. She entered the Bendix race and won second place.

  Due to many crashes by stunt pilots the government outlawed this dangerous activity. 

She had a long time goal to start a flying school for women because she believed that they weren’t trained as well as men. 

 Soon her life changed drastically.  She joined the Women’s National Committee to Keep the United States out of War. She also spoke at meetings of the America First Committee. Both of these organizations allowed her to speak against The United States joining the war. Her troubles started when she dropped leaflets on the White House. The papers asked Congress to take action to stop the United States from entering the war.

  The Civil Aeronautics Authority required Laura to get permission before dropping anything over a city from her plane. Of course, Laura never had that permission. She also violated another law that prohibited flying over the White House. 

  The authorities took her license but Laura fought back. She  said that she dropped the messages to help her country. She was told that she couldn’t get her license back until she proved that she knew the rules of civil aviation.

  A journalist said that Miss Ingalls was a member of the “Nazi fifth column” and that she wanted to aid the Nazis by speaking in favor of Hitler and his policies.

  Next she tried to enter a closed Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. The senators could hear her screaming that the United States was a dictatorship because they held this closed meeting. 

  The next mess Laura got into was flying over restricted air space and dropping pamphlets over Philadelphia. She told the authorities that dropping papers from a plane wasn’t against the law. She insisted that she didn’t do anything wrong. The authorities took her license away and required her to take a test to prove that she understood the rules of civil air regulations. 

  A few years later the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States entered the war. Ingalls continued to speak for the American First Committee. 

  Laura Ingalls was arrested and charged with failing to register as a paid Nazi agent and went to trial in 1942. She violated the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act. The prosecution said that she received money from the secretary of the German Embassy. She praised Hitler and spoke against President Roosevelt. Laura tried to influence the American public not to support the president. She disliked him because he allied himself with England not Germany. Witnesses Testified that she said Hitler would bring order to America. They said she was an extreme supporter of the Third Reich.  

  The defense claimed that she was just an American patriot and was actually against the Nazi regime. According to the defense she acted by herself because the FBI would not hire her. They claimed that Ingalls was not trying to aid the Nazis regime but she wanted to stop the spread of Hitler’s hate.

  The prosecution produced two witnesses that helped the jury find Ingalls guilty. One was A plastic surgeon who operated on her and said she was wearing a bracelet with a swastika on it. He also said she spoke fluent German. Another witness an airport manager said that he feels that he felt Ingalls was a Nazi sympathizer and wanted the German new order to spread in The United States.

  Miss Ingalls activity included going to the German Embassy and offering to help the Nazi cause. They didn’t want her help so she decided to proceed on her own. She was angry that the Germans didn’t Laura became active in The America First Committee. This group advocated for America to stay out of the war in Europe. They were against President Roosevelt and tried to influence him not to go to war.

  The prosecutor called a witness named Julia Kraus who was a former employee of the Treasury Department. She introduced Miss Ingalls to Baron Von Gienanth who was Second Secretary for the German Embassy and was thought to be a Gestapo agent and a SS reserve officer. The United State government alleged that the Baron gave Miss Ingalls money to allow her to proceed with her work for the Nazi cause.

  Miss Ingalls was given the code name “Ellen” and the baron was known as “Mama.” The key to finding information about Miss Ingalls was Julia Kraus. She facilitated the transfer of messages and money to Miss Ingalls. The jury found the defense words inaccurate. They said she was a German agent and guilty of acting against the United States goals to assist our allies. They said she was guilty of the espionage charges made against her. In a strong and defiant voice Laura Ingalls pleaded not guilty. The jury found her guilty of being a paid agent of the German government.

  In 1942 Miss Ingalls was sentenced two years and eight months in jail. She was beaten in prison because of her pro Nazi beliefs. After this incident she was transferred to other facilities then she was released in 1943.

  During her trial witnesses said that she had called Hitler a great man and then our country needed a man like that to lead us.  Miss Ingalls didn’t believe in democracy and felt that the New World Order would make the United States stronger.

 Laura Ingalls, the incredibly proficient women’s transcontinental speed champion who was a member of the Ninety-Nines had gone astray. They were angry and sad about their fellow pilot.  She was denied repeated attempts for a pardon but continued to praise Hitler. She is noted for many records in the field of aviation but she is unfortunately remembered as a German agent in World War 11. 

Laura Ingalls died on January 10, 1967.

  

 

 

 

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