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Herb Greenberg-A classic Old-Timer by Ned Nevels
Sun, 26-May-2019
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The following was an article written for an unofficial SAM Champs Newsletter published during the champs of 1993 at Taft, California. I was using an early model of a Logitech digital camera, which explains the B&W photos.

By Ned Nevels

The Annual "Gathering of the Clan" at the SAM Champs brings together old friends from all parts of the world.This year's meeting at Taft, California is no exception. Coming on the heels of the World Free-Flight Championships held the week before at Lost Hills, the small Kern County city of Taft was filled with modelers. You could see vehicle after vehicle, with various model parts visible through the wind screens, all over town.

With the MECA Collecto, (and virtually every other formal event) being held at Taft's new Recreation Center, everyone got together with their old friends, either there or at the flying field. Social Events are loosely-defined by SAM modelers. Lacking any semblance of pretension, most folks simply invited their neighbors over for a drink and some lively conversation.

The flying field looks like a RV-Center wrapped around a series of tents and modelers share their experiences, recipes, engine tips and renew long-standing friendships broken by miles and months or years of time. It reminds this observer a lot of what has been described variously by Frank Zaic and others as the same kinds of things that went on at the various pre-war NATS.

They describe enthusiastic "boys" (though many were over 18) running motors at all hours of the night in their hotel rooms. It seems that the hotels turned into huge "dorms" with many "boys" sharing space and tools and the non-stop building and testing of models seemed as much a part of the experience as the flying of planes. Many worked through the night to complete their entry for the next day's flying.

Saturday night, while looking in on the gang at the Westside Inn, we spotted Jim Lange of SAM 1 walking down a hallway carrying a hammer and asking loudly if someone had a pair of vise-grips. For a second, it seemed just like those days of yore. Only this time Jim was fixing his bed, not an airplane....and many of the "boys" had wives sharing their rooms with them, .....decidedly different from the '28 NATS.

It seems that the "Champs" has given all of us, those who lived it and those who were born later, a chance to enjoy something of that experience and, for a little while, rediscover that joy of flight and friendship so easily absent from modern life.


Ace R/C CD Steve Roselle (above) Prepares to brief pilots (17 of them !) for the Class "C" Iginition fly-offs Wednesday. Almost certainly a record number of planes for a fly-off. (they went in two waves) Steve, of course,acquited himself quite well, as usual.

Herb Greenberg fires Up His Model

The photo(left) showed up on Thursday, 14 Oct. via Herb Greenberg's old friend Bob Cahill who had been meaning to get it to Herb for years. It shows a 19-year-old Herb in 1934 at a NJ meet starting the motor on what appears to be a forerunner of the Red Zephyr. You can read "Bamberger Aero Club on the wing. (notice the dress slacks/suits on the spectators) "Curly" Greenberg (as he is now known) was delighted with the photo and seeing many of his old friends. His shock of curly red hair must have been a trademark at the old Junior Birdmen meets.

Herb Greenberg was 21 years old when he finished 11th at the 1936 NATS with his "Red Zephyr". The plane had not been test-flown prior to that flight as Herb finished it up in time to leave New Jersey for Detroit. "I let that thing go and it corkscrewed straight up just like a bomber," said Herb Monday, while watching the Brown Junior events at the '93 SAM Champs. "I never had a chance to decorate the Zephyr, it was finished in lightweight white japanese tissue just in time to leave for the NATS."

The (white) Red Zephyr showed tremendous stability and looked like a real plane, properties that attracted the attention of John D. Frisoli, President of Scientific Model Airplane Company. John inquired if Herb would be interested in letting Scientific kit his design. He offered $25 and Herb let him borrow his plane. The Scientific people measured every part of the plane and produced a kit that sold in the multi-thousands in quantity over the years. Herb, of course, only received $25 for that design.

The Frisoli family still reside near Herb in New Jersey, and the Scientific Model Airplane Company has evolved into a mail order tool firm run by the son of the founder, that company is called Micro-Mark's.

Herb had belonged to the Bamberger Aero Club since 1931. The club met on an upper floor of Bamberger's Department Store in Newark, NJ--later purchased by Macy's and operated today under the same name. Irv Polk ran the model hobby section of the department store and was the first president of the club 1931-32. You may remember Irv as he later left Bamberger's and started his own emporium, Polk's Models. Irv is still alive and he and his family own the Aristocraft label. Later, Mike Granieri was president. of the club. Speakers at club meetings included -Jimmy Doolittle,Clarence Chamberlin,and Sir Fredrick Ives, famous aviators of the period. Herb has an Doolittle-autographed Shell Oil memento from that visit. Interestingly enough, Herb reports that the famous "sunburst" finish depicted on Scientific's plans was a creation of Scientific's, as his aircraft was plain white. SAM 27 has had a special relationship with Herb Greenberg as a result of Ed Hamler's (and your observer's) affection for the Red Zephyr. Prior to the 1991 SAM Champs, Ed had flown a Ben Buckle-kitted Red Zephyr and he and your observer had started parallel Red Zephyr projects for the Ohlsson Event and Class "C". Ed contacted Herb and invited him to Jean where he got a chance to fly Ed's completed Zephyr and had a marvelous time. (as did nearly everyone who came in contact with Herb) This past winter, SAM 27 decided it would be terrific if they put together a Red Zephyr for Herb to fly at this year's editon of the SAM Champs. The plans were scaled to 90% of the original to size the wing area for an electrified version of the Red Zephyr. (knowing that Herb lived in an urban area, it was felt he would be able to fly the electric version more easily than a gas version) Club members contributed radios, motors, servos and construction skills. Ed Hamler assembled and finished the final product.

A full listing of contributors to the Red Zephyr project will be printed in Wednesday's 'Review'. Monday, Herb got in several training flights and soloed the Zephyr for an additional five flights, the last of which was very special as the Zephyr took off in lift and eventually put in over 12 minutes. Herb was enthralled with the plane and the flying. Conversations with the 78-years-young Herb, (he celebrated that birthday on Monday) are an interesting mixture of old and new. Herb will be talking about engineering problems he worked on as a Navy pilot in WWII and in the next second remark that the twin tails on a contestant's model reminded him of another design that he sold to a kit company, the Miss World's Fair. (This time, Herb received $50 for his design!) If a listener isn't prepared for Herb's wide-ranging interests, he or she can suffer from a severe case of verbal whiplash as Herb careens from subject to subject. He has a 486/33MHz PC at home and works with Computer Aided Design programs from his work. He still works full-time and flies full-scale gliders and airplanes out of the busy Newark/NY corridor. After the SAM Champs at Taft, Herb is on his way to Lyon, France for a "total immersion" seminar in French. Herb is a prolific writer and has had stories published in soaring magazines of his exploits soaring in Germany a few years ago. He is currently working on a patentable idea for ice warning devices for aircraft and is in line for a defense department development grant to develop the idea. If you get the idea that Herb doesn't let his age have anything to do with how he pursues life, you're right! Herb doesn't endure, pass or put up with life. He attacks, relishes and pursues it with gusto.

Jim Kincy and Stan Lane (left) of SAM 30 await CD Steve Roselle's signal to start the flyoffs in Class"C" Ignition. The tension of the moment plainly evident from their body language. Say, didn't Kincy just get back from Maui?


Eut Tileston awaits the C Ignition flyoffs with Colin Borthwick of Australia and Ken Kullman of SAM 1 (formerly SAM 51)

Left is a photo of Herb Greenburg standing behind his designs of the Red Zephyr (Built as an electric, I think, by Ed Hamler in SAM 27) and his rubber powered Miss Worlds Fair, built by Al Heinrich. Photo taken at the Concours de Elegance at SAM Champs. Taft, California 1993.

Photo by Charlie Reich

Ed Hamler prepares Herb's E-Zephyr for a test hop at Taft in October of 1993. Ed spearheaded the SAM 27 club project to build a replica of Herb's famous plane. His 90% reduction of Herb's plans have been picked up by Spirit of Yesteryear Who kit just such a version for electric use. It's a fine flying model with a stable pattern and a great heritage

This page is forSAMTalk participants..no link to this page is provided anywhere else except on SAMTalk...Ned Nevels, SAM Webmaster

Photo by Charlie Reich

Photo #3 is a close up of Herb having a serious chat with Bob Peru at the SAM Champs in Muncie Indiana 1994.

This electric sized Red Zephyr model is now available as a laser cut complete kit from Spirit of Yesteryear. The Miss Worlds Fair is from an Aerodyne kit. Ol' Charlie.

Closeup of Al Heinrich's Miss World's Faire. Photo By Charlie Reich.

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