USNR-FERRY & FIGHTER PILOT
I got out of the Navy in November ’57 and expected my father to ask me to go to work with him. When that didn’t happen, I went to New Orleans looking for a job. There was one flying a Lockheed Lodestar and another flying seaplanes out to the oil rigs in the gulf to check the drilling mud. I interviewed in Houston for that one and they asked me to do research on mud. I did that for a year being the first one in in the morning and the last one out at night. I loved the work, but couldn’t take the confinement. They had me fly the company Cessna 195 and their Aero Commander. I didn’t like being an airborne taxi driver and wound up selling insurance after which my father hired me.
During my time in Houston, I flew F9f-8s and FJ-3s in the reserves out of Navy Dallas. I remember a night flight to Key West. We arrived in a thunder storm. I was flying wing. Lightning would light up my leader’s plane, and then all would be dark until my night vision showed his position lights. We held for a long time and I developed vertigo. Finally came the jet penetration and landing. The rum drink was especially good that night.
I worked for my father in Houston selling his mildew product, Endew until the fall of ’59 when I moved to Connecticut to sell wax. I transferred to the reserves at Willow Grove continuing to fly FJs. We did a 2 week cruise in New Orleans the following spring and my father asked me to come to Miami for a couple of weeks to launch his new milder product, Kildew. After 2 weeks, I was asked to stay another and then another. I missed getting into a jet squadron in Jacksonville because they had just transitioned to A4Ds. I wound up in an anti submarine squadron. My checkout as co-pilot was interesting. The “instructor” never looked up from the instruments. I read the clearances all the way to landing at Atlanta. Turning off onto the taxiway, he finally looked at me saying, “That wasn’t bad, first time I ever flew actual instruments.” Bringing this guy home alive, they made me co-pilot for the executive officer, “Sears” Roebuck. During a two week cruise in Key west, half the squadron flew days one week and nights the rest. On my free daytime, I went fishing with some guys. Nothing was biting my line; so I donned my mask and fins. We were anchored in a channel alongside a bank that was filled with lobsters. I started throwing them into the boat and managed to feed the squadron, after which, I became known as “Lobster” Neuberg.
I had Kildew floor displays in department stores and grocery stores, but the stuff just didn’t sell. I think it was the driest year in the history of Florida. When the squadron skipper read a letter from President Kennedy asking for volunteers for the Berlin crisis, I stood up and said, “guy’s, let’s go”. They all looked at me with wonder. I wound up in the ferry squadron.
Morry Loso was my check pilot. The cross country stop was El Paso, and the checkout in Juarez started with the Cuba Libras at 25 cents each. The next stop was a slightly more expensive bar that had girls, and from there, the Ice Palace that had live sex. I finally left on my own as Loso kept drinking. I walked to the border to catch a cab and showed the guard my Navy ID saying me Americano. The army guy arrested me and threw me into a wire cage. I took down an overhead fluorescent light and threatened the army with deadly poison in accordance with my prisoner of war training. A Navy Lt. Cdr. Reserve school teacher finally came, hopefully to release me. He came to my cage and said, Son, not only are you in trouble with … bullshit, bullshit. An army major released me in the morning and took me to my airplane. After I got out of the Navy, I took pleasure in calling Lt.Cdr Jerald Jarvis and telling his wife I was his son, Not.
I found no sympathy from the commanding officer of the ferry squadron, quit the opposite. In any case, I put in my time flying lots of different airplanes. A regular destination was NAS Litchfield Park Arizona where planes were put in storage or cut up for scrap. One interesting plane to fly was the F9F drone. These were painted red and the radios replaced with drone stuff. I remember leaving somewhere in Texas for China Lake. I somehow missed seeing Phoenix, but seeing Lake Meade, I realized I was right of course, corrected and spotted China Lake, no problem. Another drone flight was to Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. I spotted Vieques, but it didn’t look like my destination; so I circled and landed at the right field. This was during the Cuban Missile crisis. I remember the officer’s club at Gitmo was near the top of a hill. Just outside were Marines in bunkers aiming at Cuba.
I met Ricki while in the Ferry squadron, and took FJ’s to Quonset for overhaul stopping at Floyd Bennet to visit her. Fortunately Ricki and I hit it off together and a Fighter Pilot suddenly found serious romance.
I also stopped at McArthur in Long Island with an AD. One day I left Norfolk in a pretty good rain and they forgot to pull the pins out of my landing gear. I couldn’t climb to the assigned altitude and didn’t know my range with gear down; so I got cleared back to Norfolk. I broke out around 500 ft and wanted to stay low, but the GCA controller kept telling me to climb which caused me to add power. I landed hot and blew the main tires and dropped the arresting hook which grabbed the emergency gear and swung me around into the cable which blew the nose wheel tire too. My father had been asking me to help him in a new business venture. You could only get out based on hardship. I applied and the skipper gladly endorsed.
On one of my ferry hops, I took off from Navy Dallas for the AFB near Nashville, I think Dobbins. I called 30 miles out for landing and they told me the main runway was closed, but they had an open 5000 ft. calculating my fuel back to Memphis and my weight, I took the 5000, landing in a little over 3. I looked up the Airdrome Officer to ask why they didn’t put out a NOTAM. He proceeded to show me their NOTAM board. It had permanent NOTAMS hanging on the right. The AO went on to explain that these came out on the teletype at midnight on Saturday. Nobody had told the Navy and every NAS threw then out when they got the next 12 hour summary. I looked up the Air Force Major in Washington who created this system. Major Metzger had been a Major in WWII, stayed in as sergeant, and made it back to major. He gave me a copy of the Air Force instructions which I took to Cdr. Oas, the Navy guy responsible. He told me his hands were tied and later sent me a letter of commendation.
I proposed at the next all pilots meeting that the ferry squadron was in a perfect position to pass along the Air Force instructions. My fine commanding officer read of his official mission statement and told me to sit down. I took pictures, and passed out the info to any NAS I went to. Later, when I got out, I bummed a ride from NY to Chicago with a ferry pilot who told me that I should have landed at Oceana, ho hum, and that The Admiral in charge of the reserves, CNARESTRA, commended his operations officer on the nice Notam board. The ops officer explained that he got the official air force instructions from some crazy ferry pilot. The admiral took a ribbing from the General at the nearest AFB and put out a notice for his command and copied to the other three admirals.
Entering civilian life, my father introduced me to a guy from California who was collecting the tank bottoms from the wineries to make Cream of Tartar. I found a company in Philadelphia that made ammonium bicarbonate and could use some of the same equipment for tartar. We got into production and sold all we could make until the next year when the wineries started using an ion exchange process to keep the tartar in solution. The business failed and at the same time, Ed Smith, my father’s partner selling wax, died. The wax supplier dropped us as sales representatives, but we imported Cream of Tartar and kept the business alive. I hired Victor Golden who worked with my father trading tartar.
The main wax that we had been selling was used in liquid printing ink. I tried to duplicate it, but it was a complex process, so I developed a micronized wax that worked. Later, my father’s business neighbor was dropped as sales rep from a company making PTFE (Teflon) micropowder. I tried using that for rub resistance in ink, but it was not as good as wax. A month later, I tried it in combination with wax and it worked. It worked so well that once one ink maker had it, the others all had to in order to compete. The year was about 1972.
Meanwhile, the Cream of Tartar business continued until one day we got a cable from out supplier in Spain announcing a huge price increase. My father would not buy. I told him that we had better stop advertizing and advise our customers. He gave in. We bought at 36 cents and when the shipment arrived the price was 50. I guess we sold at 60. No one else had any. This continued until the price reached $2.00 when we quit.
I had a toll manufacturer grinding wax. They couldn’t keep up. I found another. They built a loop highway around Baltimore and closed down my second toller. I met Danny Galenkamp. He worked for the toller of the guy who spied on me and copied. Danny came with me. We used the tartar profit to buy a plant. The business grew. On the PTFE side, we were using toll irradiation. Bob Luniewski (ex Air Force B-52 navigator) worked for the electron beam company and came with me. I wanted to use a fluidized bed to irradiate PTFE. Bob made this into a blender. We patented.
Bob quit to go into medical sterilization. This didn’t work. Bob built a plant to grind PTFE that his sterilization gut irradiated. I found out. Bob told the judge the patent wasn’t valid. The judge asked him how come he signed his name to it. The judgment was 3.2 million for us. Bob couldn’t pay. We acquired his plant and business. Bob still works for us. We installed a beam in our Newark plant. We bought another plant near Bob’s first and installed a beam. Now there are 3 there and one in Newark.
Somewhere along the way, I took a sabbatical to build an airplane. I flew it to Sun and Fun Lakeland, FL Fly-In. Taught Ed to fly again. It was a beautiful Navy colored blue and yellow. It was later stolen from my hangar and never recovered. But my Airplane building friend Bob Newman was building one just like mine and I bought it to recuperate my broken heart from the loss of my pride and joy.
The guy I
hired to run the business was losing money so I came back and righted things. We opened plants in
Belgium and China. We keep developing products, processes, applications, sales,
people and the rest of what it takes. We keep growing. I hired a president last
year and he is helping to make the business more efficient. We have five
engineering interns this summer. Business never stops being risk. It seems the
world has copied us, but we go on. I’m sure that this would not have happened
without my experience as a Naval Aviator.