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  • Delta Stories: Nipton Nelson Hill, first 50-year employee

    May 09, 2018

    In 1985, Nipton Nelson "Nip" Hill made Delta history as the first employee to reach fifty years of service with the airline. 

    Nip Hill Delta's first 50-year employee, 1985

    Fresh out of the Navy, on August 6, 1935, Nip Hill began working for Delta Air Lines as a porter. Hill helped maintain the tiny fleet of Stinson A’s and Stinson T’s that flew the Atlanta-to-Charleston, South Carolina, route. His responsibilities included cleaning planes, checking and loading bags and assisting passengers.

    During his time as a porter, Hill became good friends with C.E. Woolman, principal founder and general manager of Delta. Woolman became Hill’s mentor and the two would often talk about the importance of a strong work ethic and the value of long-time employees passing on the company’s values to new recruits. Their relationship was such that Nip named a son after Woolman and the Hill family had a standing dinner invitation with the Woolmans every Christmas holiday.

    Hill receiving 10-year service pin from Woolman, 1945

    Receiving 10-year service pin from Delta General Manager C.E. Woolman in 1945.

    Nine years after joining Delta, Hill was promoted to truck driver. He made deliveries to major companies in Atlanta, became the face of Delta customer service to them, and was called “the best salesman Delta ever had.” In 1963, Hill was promoted to management as pick-up and delivery supervisor, a position he held until his retirement in 1985. 

    Looking back over his 50-year career, Hill recalled, “One of my happiest days at Delta is when they got the first big jet. And that airplane flew across the field with all the employees out there yelling and hollering. . . I was so thrilled to know that we were going to be in a position to compete with the competition. ” 

    Nip Hill with DC-8 in 1959 

    The Delta Digest company magazine published this photo of Hill and the brand-new DC-8 jet with his quote: “All the pride and glory of Delta Air Lines is right there. She’s the queen of the skies.” 

    Nip Hill was a legend for his impressive work ethic and his enthusiasm for Delta, and a record-breaker as the first Delta employee to reach 50 years of active service.

    Nip Hill died in 2009. He was 95 years old. 

    Thank you for your contributions and service!

    Marie Force

    Archives Director