Najeeb Halaby led a very full life. He was a lawyer and a businessman. He set Naval flying records. He headed the Federal Aviation Administration and ran Pan American World Airways. He appeared on the cover of Time Magazine. He was even the father of a queen.
Halaby graduated from Stanford University and Yale University law school. While working at a Los Angeles law firm, Halaby took flying lessons, which helped him land a job as a flight instructor with the Navy.
During World War II, Halaby test-piloted the first U.S. jet plane, the Bell P-59, and made the first continuous transcontinental jet flight. After the war, he helped Laurence Rockefeller oversee his family’s business enterprises.
When President John F. Kennedy appointed Halaby to the FAA in 1961, he decentralized its authority and helped create the FAA Flight Academy in Oklahoma City.
In 1969, Halaby became chief executive of Pan Am. While he was credited with expanding the airline’s Inter-Continental Hotel chain, he also oversaw the purchase of an expensive new fleet of Boeing 747s, a move that indebted the company for years.
After Pan Am, Halaby published the autobiography, “Crosswinds: An Airman’s Memoir,” with Doubleday. He worked as the chairman of the International Advisory Board for Royal Jordanian Airlines, and ran Halaby International, a New York investment business specializing in Middle East aviation ventures. His daughter Lisa became Queen Noor in 1978 when she married King Hussein of Jordan.
Halaby died Wednesday of congestive heart failure. He was 87.