Halaby being sworn in as Administrator of the Federal Aviation Agency, 1961
Najeeb Elias Halaby, Jr.
November 19, 1915
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
|Died||July 2, 2003(aged 87)|
|Occupation||Aviator, government official, and businessman|
|Known for||making the first transcontinental jet flight in U.S. history|
|Children||3, including Lisa Halaby-Queen Noor of Jordan|
|Parent(s)||Najeeb Elias Halaby, Sr.|
Halaby was born in Dallas, Texas. His father was Najeeb Elias Halaby, Sr. (March 17, 1878/1880 - December 16, 1928), a Syrian Christian who immigrated to the United States from Syria in 1891. Halaby's paternal grandfather was Elias Halaby, a provincial treasurer or magistrate in Ottoman Syria, who also came to the U.S. in 1891. Halaby's father worked as an importer, and later as an oil broker; in the mid-1920s he opened Halaby Galleries, a rug boutique and interior-decorating shop, at Neiman Marcus in Dallas, and ran it with his American wife, Halaby's mother, the former Laura Wilkins (April 23, 1889 - April 1987). He died shortly afterward, and his estate was unable to continue the new enterprise. Following Halaby's father's death, Laura Halaby married Urban B. Koen, but they ultimately divorced. Halaby's maternal grandfather was John Thomas Wilkins, who served in the 7th Tennessee Cavalry during the Civil War.
Halaby was a graduate of The Leelanau School, a boarding school in Glen Arbor Township Leelanau County, Michigan, and is enshrined in that school's Hall of Fame. An alumnus of Stanford University (1937) and Yale Law School (1940), he served as a U.S. Navy test pilot in World War II. On May 1, 1945, Halaby made history by making the first transcontinental jet flight in U.S. history. Halaby took off from Muroc AFB, California, and landed at Patuxent River NAS, Maryland, 5 hours and 40 minutes later.
After the war he served as the U.S. State Department's civil aviation advisor to King AbdulAziz Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia, helping the king develop Saudi Arabian Airlines. Next, he worked as an aide to Secretary of Defense James Forrestal in the late 1940s, then helped Paul Nitze write NSC 68. He joined Laurance Rockefeller's family office in 1953, reviewing investments in civil aviation.
From 1961 to 1965, he served as the second Administrator of the Federal Aviation Agency - the future Federal Aviation Administration - appointed by President John F. Kennedy. Halaby was a proponent for the creation of the United States Department of Transportation, which occurred in April 1967 during his time in the Lyndon B. Johnson administration. From 1969 to 1972, he served as CEO, and chairman after 1970, of Pan American World Airways. As Pan American World Airways chairman, he was present at the christening of the first Boeing 747 aircraft.
Halaby was married three times. He married Doris Carlquist in Washington, D.C., on December 24, 1945 and he divorced her in 1977. They had three children: daughter Lisa, who became Queen of Jordan in 1978; son Christian; and daughter Alexa.
He was married to the former Jane Allison Coates from 1980 until her death in 1996. From 1997 until his death in 2003 at age 87, he was married to Libby Anderson Cater.