Najeeb E. Halaby Collection

Najeeb E. Halaby (1915-2003), born to a Lebanese-Syrian father and a American mother, made his first flight in at Mines Field in 1932. Halaby went on to study at Stanford (degree granted in Political Science in 1937) and at Yale (law degree in 1940). During World War II, Halaby worked as a US Navy test pilot, and he flew the first operational American jet plane. In 1945, Halaby become the first person to make a nonstop, transcontinental jet flight. After the war, Halaby worked for the Office of Research and Intelligence under President Harry Truman and served as deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs for the Eisenhower administration. In the late 1950s, Halaby campaigned for John F. Kennedy, who appointment him head of the Federal Aviation Administration in 1961. During his four years with the FAA, he oversaw the modernization of the American air traffic control system, introduced security measures at airports to prevent skyjacking and desegregated all American air terminals. He joined Pan Am as a senior vice-president in 1965, becoming the chairman in 1970. His tenure at Pan Am was stormy and ended in his enforced resignation in 1973, after the most disastrous financial run in the airline's history and with the company's workforce demoralized. After leaving Pan Am, Halaby was invited to Jordan, where he met with King Hussein and helped to create an Arab Air Academy. Halaby's daughter, Lisa, married King Hussein in 1978. After his retirement, Halaby served on various public and charitable institutions and he carried on flying into his eighties.