Nancy Harkness

Nancy Harkness was born in Houston, Michigan on February 14, 1914. At the age of sixteen, she took her first flight which inspired her to become a pilot, she was able to earn her pilots license within a month. She attended Milton Academy in Massachusetts and Vassar in New York. While there, her spirit was described as being restless and adventurous. By the end of her freshman year, she was nicknamed “the flying freshman!” Not long after, she earned her commercial license and soon had the attention of the nation.[1] While attending school at Vassar, she would earn extra money by taking students for a ride in a plane she rented from the airport.[2]

In 1936, Nancy Harkness married Robert M. Love and became Nancy Harkness Love. Robert love was an air corpse reserve major. Together, they built a boston-based aviation company, known as Inter City Aviation, Nancy was there mean pilot. While working there, Nancy also flew for the Bureau of Air Commerce.[3]

Between 1936 and 1937, Harkness Love competed in the National Air races in both Los Angeles and Detroit. She finished second in the Detroit race and stopped competing.

In 1937 and 1938, Nancy worked as a test pilot for the Gwynn Air Car Company. One of her projects was to be a test pilot on the new tricycle landing gear. This landing gear would soon become standard on most aircrafts. In another project, she marked water towers with town names as a navigational aid for pilots.[4]

World War II broke out, Nancy wanted to find a way to help. She wrote a letter to Lieutenant Colonel Robert Olds, who was then in the Plans Division of the United States Air Corps Headquarters. She wrote to him saying that she had found forty-nine excellent pilots, all of whom were women. Had more than a thousand flying hours and would come to be known as “the originals.” Love proposed that the woman could transport aircraft from factories to bases. Olds liked the idea and submitted a plan for integrating civil female pilots into the Ferrying Command. Nevertheless, the plan got turned down because a pilot and business executive named Jacqueline Cochran made General Hap Arnold’s promise not to act on any proposal that concerned women pilots that did not make the commissioned officers.[5]

In 1942, Robert Love was called up for duty, he served in Washington, D.C. as the deputy chief of staff of the Ferrying Command. Nancy moved with him to D.C. and began working in a civil service position with the Operations Office of the Ferrying Command’s Northeast Sector, Domestic Division in Baltimore, Maryland. Nancy Love was able to pilot her own plane back and forth to her job every day.[6]

While she was piloting her own plane, she caught the attention of Colonel Tunner, whose office was located near her husbands. Tunner was looking for skilled pilots to deliver aircraft from factories to fields. Major Love believed that Tunner should approach his wife on the situation directly.[7]

Nancy Love helped convince Tunner that female pilots should carry out his plan. She drafted a proposal, with his recommendation, that these pilots should be commissioned into the Women’s Army Corps (WAAC). However, their plan was denied. To get around this, Tunner appointed Nancy to his staff as Executive of Women’s Pilots and they continued with their plan. It did not take them long to recruit thirty female pilots to join the newly established Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS); twenty-eight pilots graduated from the training course. Love was the commander of the WAFS, and in September 1942, the group began flying out of New Castle Army Air Field in Wilmington, Delaware.[8]

By June 1943, the size of the WAFS had greatly increased. At this point, female pilots flew almost every type of aircraft in the Army Air Forces’ inventory. Love herself was certified to fly nineteen different aircrafts and became the first woman certified to fly the Douglas C-54 Skymaster and the North American B-25 Mitchell. On August 5, 1943, the WAFS merged with the Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) and became the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).[9]

The WASPs were disbanded in 1944 but Nancy Love continued to work on reports detailing the work of the Air Transport Command. When the war ended, Nancy and Robert Love were given the unique opportunity of being decorated together. The couple went on to have three daughters. Nancy continued her work and remained a significant leader of the aviation industry. She also became a champion of the WASPs hoping to get them recognition as military veterans. In 1948, after the Air Force was created, Nancy was given the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserves.[10]

On November 23, 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed H.R. 8701 that granted the WASPs veteran status. Unfortunately, Nancy Love passed away a year earlier, at the age of sixty-two, of cancer.

[1] Captain Nancy Welz Aldrich, “Nancy Harkness Love,” 20th Century Aviation
[2] Alain Pelletier, High-Flying Women: A World History of Female Pilots, Sparkford, UK: Haynes, 2012, p. 136–137.
[3] “Nancy Harkness Love”, Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.
[4] “Nancy Harkness Love,” Vassar Encyclopedia.
[5] Stewart-Smith, Lieutenant Colonel Natalie. “1981,” Women Airforce Service Pilots, May 18, 1998.
[6] Alain Pelletier, High-Flying Women: A World History of Female Pilots, p. 136–137.
[7] Deborah G. Douglas, “Nancy Harkness Love: Female Pilot and First to Fly for the U.S. Military,” HistoryNet, June 12, 2006 (originally published in Aviation History magazine, January 1999 issue).
[8] Alain Pelletier, High-Flying Women: A World History of Female Pilots, p. 136–137.
[9] Ibid.
[10] G.W. Hyatt, “Nancy Harkness (Love),” Davis-Monthan Airfield Register, updated July 25, 2014.


3 responses to “Nancy Harkness”

  1. RobertUrigh Avatar

    Избранные актуальные новости часового искусства – актуальные новинки именитых часовых марок.
    Все модели часов от бюджетных до экстра роскошных.

  2. Stephenunuff Avatar

    Избранные свежие новости часового искусства – свежие модели культовых часовых брендов.
    Абсолютно все варианты часов от дешевых до ультра роскошных.

  3. Stephenunuff Avatar

    Избранные трендовые события мира часов – свежие модели лучших часовых компаний.
    Точно все коллекции хронографов от доступных до очень роскошных.

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