Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Love, Nancy Harkness (1914–1976)

Title: Nancy Harkness Love
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Squadron commander of the U.S. Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS). Born on 14 February 1914 in Houghton, Michigan, Nancy Harkness developed an interest in aviation early in life. At the age of 16, she earned her pilot's license, and while a student at Vassar College, she began a flying school. Harkness earned an air transport rating in 1933. In 1936, she married Robert Maclure Love, who owned Inter-City Aviation, an aircraft sales and service company in Boston.

On 10 September 1942, Love, with the support of Colonel William H. Tunner, head of the Ferrying Division's Domestic Wing of the U.S. Air Transport Command (ATC), organized 25 women pilots into the WAFS. Headquartered at New Castle Army Air Base in Delaware, the WAFS was formed to deliver planes from factories to military bases.

On 5 August 1943, the WAFS and the Women's Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) merged to form the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), with Jacqueline Cochran as director of the WASP and its Training Division and Love as director of the Ferrying Division. Love's duties included the administration of six WASP ferrying squadrons and the planning of operational and training procedures.

Love was the first woman to be qualified to fly the North American P-51 Mustang fighter, and by March 1943, she was also proficient in the North American A-36 Apache dive-bomber and 14 other types of military aircraft. She was also the first woman to fly the North American B-25 Mitchell bomber, piloting it coast to coast in record time. Accompanied by Betty Gillies, Love was one of the first two women qualified to fly the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. She was also the first woman to deliver a Douglas C-47 Skytrain and to qualify in the Douglas C-54 Skymaster transport.

At the end of the war, Love and her husband, a major in the Army Air Forces, were each awarded the Air Medal for their leadership and service in World War II. After the war, Love continued as an aviation industry luminary and became a champion in the fight to have the women who served in WASP recognized as military veterans, a status they received in 1977 shortly after Love's death in Sarasota, Florida, on 22 October 1976.

Amy Goodpaster Strebe


Further Reading
Granger, Byrd Howell. On Final Approach: The Women Airforce Service Pilots of WWII. Scottsdale, AZ: Falconer Publishing, 1991.; Keil, Sally Van Wagenen. Those Wonderful Women in Their Flying Machines: The Unknown Heroines of World War II. New York: Four Directions Press, 1979.; Merryman, Molly. Clipped Wings: The Rise and Fall of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II. New York: New York University Press, 2001.; Rickman, Sarah Byrn. The Originals: The Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron of World War II. Sarasota, FL: Disc-Us Books, 2001.
 

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