From the Hangars

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


Leave a comment
  1. Robert Drukenmiller | Oct 23, 2023
    In my capacity as a Procurement Manager for Delta, I got to know Mr. Hill on several levels. I was involved in developing the first 50-year service pin which was presented to Mr. Hill. Later, after Mr. Hill retired as an active employee he continued to manage Delta's laundry requirements as a supplier. Once, I asked him, "Mr. Hill, when Delta first began boarding refreshments on Delta planes, how many planes did you have to service?" Without missing a beat he replied "Well, both of 'em!" He went on to tell me that when he was in the military service, Mrs. Hill would take a bus to the airport, pick up the soiled laundry, and take the cleaned, pressed laundry to Delta the next day. I met Mr. Hill's son who had served as an officer and Mr. Hill was so proud of him. What a great man and great family!
  2. Ben R Loggins | Aug 21, 2022

    See the Video of his life



  3. william brewer | Jan 15, 2022

    the pin you see above was fashioned for Nip Hill. No other person had reached the 50 year with

    Delta. Nip was the first.

  4. Lewis Linson | Nov 25, 2020
    It is written that Nip was working the ramp somewhere one night when it was pouring rain, back in the day when a passenger picked up his baggage at the plane and carried it inside himself.  He saw a passenger about to pick up his baggage in the rain, and said to him:  "Go on inside sir, I am already wet, there is no sense in you getting wet, too.  I'll bring your bags in."  The passenger was C. E. Wollman.
  5. Collette Hill | Sep 23, 2018
    I am Collette, still passing on C.E Woolman's first name,given to my father.   Mr. Woolman's middle name "Evermon" is one of my brother's first name.  He is a twin with Nelson as his middle name. My Grandfather, Nip" Nelson Hill was the greatest Man I know.  I worked side by side with him at Hill's Drycleaners and Laundry.  Later, I went on to graduate from Spelman College, which he attended the ceremony.  I spent a few years working for n Delta Airlines as a "Gate Agent"n and enjoyed that experience immensely.  Thank you for your kind words.  Good luck and God Bless to all!    
  6. Rodney A. | Sep 22, 2018

    I'm taking my son to the museum later today. As I was perusing the website I found this little known history fact.

    Great story!

  7. Mary Duncan South | Sep 01, 2018
    how many 50 year employees are there now?
  8. Lee Davenport | Jun 06, 2018

    Yes I had the privilege of knowing NIP always a kind word and positive altitude a very person to work with.

  9. Freddie Johnson | May 23, 2018
    i enjoyed reading Mr. Nip’s history will service the customer’s of Delta.  He had company pride.  I wish he was still here especially becuase of the insight he would have and could share with people like my grandson in concurring his fear of flying.  I am hoping after we tour the museum it might help him with his discomfort of flying.
  10. carl manley | May 11, 2018

    Had the pleasure of knowing Nip while at Delta.  He never seemed to have a bad day


  11. anita sinclair | May 10, 2018
    What a legacy to leave his family,and Delta was very lucky to have Mr Hill as an employee,

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