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Najeeb "Jeeb"[1] Elias Halaby, Jr. (Arabic: نجيب إلياس حلبي‎; November 19, 1915[2] – July 2, 2003) was an American businessman, government official, celebrated aviator, and the father of Queen Noor of Jordan.

Najeeb Halaby
Najeeb Halaby 1961.jpg
Halaby being sworn in as Administrator of the Federal Aviation Agency, 1961
Najeeb Elias Halaby, Jr.

(1915-11-19)November 19, 1915
DiedJuly 2, 2003(2003-07-02) (aged 87)
OccupationAviator, government official, and businessman
Known formaking the first transcontinental jet flight in U.S. history
Children3, including Lisa Halaby–Queen Noor of Jordan
Parent(s)Najeeb Elias Halaby, Sr.
Laura Wilkins

Early life and ancestryEdit

Halaby was born in Dallas, Texas.[2] His father was Najeeb Elias Halaby, Sr. (March 17, 1878/1880 – December 16, 1928), a Syrian Christian[3] who immigrated to the United States from Syria in 1891.[3] Halaby's paternal grandfather was Elias Halaby, a provincial treasurer or magistrate in Ottoman Syria,[3] 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.[4]


First Lady of the United States Pat Nixon visits the cockpit of the first commercial Boeing 747 jet, in conjunction with the christening ceremony for the plane at Dulles International Airport

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.[5]

After the war he served as the U.S. State Department's civil aviation advisor to King Abdul Aziz 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.[6] He joined Laurance Rockefeller's family office in 1953, reviewing investments in civil aviation.[7]

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.

In an ironic twist of fate, Halaby was meeting with President Nixon On November 24, 1971. That is the day D.B. Cooper hijacked flight 305 from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, Washington. The same day he was meeting with Nixon, one of the "Plumbers" from Nixon's cabinet was meeting with Attorney General John Mitchell. Three hours after meeting with President Nixon, Cooper hijacked flight 305. While Halaby was the director of the FAA, he was the lead proponent of the Boeing 2707 Supersonic Jet. President Johnson signed executive order 11149 approving $1 Billion to build a US made SSJ. When the FBI tested the tie of DB Cooper, they found a particle of titanium which was pure titanium, a rarity for the 1970s. The SSJ used pure titanium in building components from the jet. In his book, he mentions two hijackings, however, he does not mention the DB Cooper hijacking nor does he mention that he was meeting with the President of the United States just hour prior to the hijacking. [8]

Personal lifeEdit

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.[9]

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.[10]


  1. ^ FAA ADMINISTRATOR NAJEEB HALABY, by Maria Papageorgiou
  2. ^ a b Najeeb Elias Halaby, Jr.'s Birth Certificate
  3. ^ a b c "Queen Noor". Retrieved August 4, 2011.
  4. ^ Halaby, Najeeb E. (1978). Crosswinds: an airman's memoir. Doubleday. p. 4. ISBN 9780385049634.
  5. ^ Orfalea, Gregory The Arab Americans: A History. Olive Branch Press. Northampton, MA, 2006. Page 117
  6. ^ Halaby, Najeeb E. (1978). Crosswinds: an airman's memoir. Doubleday. p. 49. ISBN 9780385049634.
  7. ^ Halaby, Najeeb E. (1978). Crosswinds: an airman's memoir. Doubleday. p. 58. ISBN 9780385049634.
  8. ^ Halaby, Najeeb E. (1978). Crosswinds: an airman's memoir. Doubleday. p. 250. ISBN 9780385049634.
  9. ^ The New York Times
  10. ^ Najeeb Halaby, longtime university supporter and volunteer, dies at 87
Government offices
Preceded by
Elwood Quesada
Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration
1961 – 1965
Succeeded by
William F. McKee