Robert MacLure Love may have received more than he bargained for when he hired Nancy Harkness to fly and sell airplanes at his company, Inter-City Air Service, that and he his sister, Margaret owned. Love hired Harkness as his assistant sales manager, believing that an attractive, twenty-year-old female salesperson lured in customers, while her flying proficiency convinced them they too could learn to fly.
Two years later they were married in January, 1936, and Boston's "First Couple of the Air" built Inter-City Air Service from two planes and eight employees to eight planes and fifty employees. The company encompassed almost every facet of aviation and Nancy Harkness Love proved an essential partner.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Love was called out of the Reserves, and in 1942, went to Washington, D. C. as the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Ferry Command. Nancy accompanied him to his assignment and soon landed a civilian post with the Air Transport Command (ATC) Ferrying Division Operations Office in Baltimore, Maryland. She piloted her own airplane on her daily commute from the couple’s home in Washington, D. C., which caught the attention of Col. William Tunner, who was heading up the domestic wing of the Ferrying Division and was scouring the country for skilled pilots. Major Love encouraged Col. Tunner to talk to his wife directly, and Nancy convinced Tunner that the idea of using experienced women pilots to supplement the existing pilot force was a good one.
Nancy Love went on to command the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) under Col. Tunner, which ultimately became the WASP in 1943.
At the end of the war, Nancy Love and her husband had the unique distinction of being decorated simultaneously. Major Love received the Distinguished Service Medal and Nancy was awarded the Air Medal for her "Operational leadership in the successful training and assignment of over 300 qualified women fliers in the flying of advanced military aircraft".
Major Love, like his wife Nancy, was ahead of his time. He supported Nancy as a business woman, when not many women were in the work place. He supported his wife's career in aviation at a time when there were few female pilots. Ultimately due to his support, the barriers regarding women serving as pilots in the U.S. military were broken down. We salute Major Love for this, as his support of Nancy meant supporting over 1,000 women who served as pilots in WWII. And we salute Major Love for his service to the United States of America.