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Dick FreeborgDick Freeborg has poured himself into his highly successful firm, Hightech Signs & Graphix.Setbacks can't stop Dick Freeborg from enjoying life, family and successLife couldn't have been much better for Richard "Dick" Freeborg.Although Freeborg was an experienced water skiier, he'd never been on a aquatic WaveRunner before, so he jumped at the chance.Flying over the lake at near automobile speeds was exhilarating, but he lost sight of his son-in-law Brian around a boat , and the two collided. "I T-boned him doing about 40 mph." Sustaining severe injuries, Freeborg, who was wearing a life vest, lay motionless. "I was just floating in the water." He was carefully plucked from the lake and transported to Loma Linda University Hospital.Doctors decided to move him to Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, where a noted doctor could repair his shattered hip and related injuries." "Well, Dick," Freeborg remembers the doctor saying, "rocket science is over.The rest is up to you." For Freeborg, the devastating accident would be the first of several life challenges since arriving to the Victor Valley in the mid-1990s that would provide pivotal choices: recoil and fail, or move forward and succeed.Each time, there would be only one response from the resilient Freeborg. PHOTOGRAPHIC CAREER Raised in Van Nuys, Freeborg served in the United State Air Force's 1352 Photographic Squadron in Korea, becoming a civilian again in 1959.He went to work for Bell & Howell and earned his bachelor's degree at Woodbury College.Later he worked for the company's military marketing arm, the TRAID Corp., modifying cameras to run at accelerated speeds of 200 frames per second. Freeborg's expertise in the technical photography field made him a hot commodity, so in the late 1960s he was hired by Photo-Sonics to launch the Instrumentation Marketing Corp.Over the next few decades his company would introduce numerous products, some of which are still used in aerospace and other industries.In 1991, he became president of NAC Visual Systems. But along the way, his understanding of high-speed cameras also opened a door: He was hired to film and compute certified aviation speed record attempts for the National Aeronautics Association. "I guess I've done 15 or 20 air world records," said Freeborg, whose most notable event was as observer for a high altitude flight of the SR-71 Blackbird.In the early 1990s, Freeborg began consulting, often commuting to New Jersey. "That really got old.It was too much traveling." By the mid-1990s, he started thinking of moving to the Victor Valley to retire.The couple built a home in Apple Valley in 1996, but Freeborg began helping out at his adult children's business, Hightech Signs & Graphx, which then was a franchise.One of his two sons "decided the grass was greener" and left the company.But his daughter Alison and son Scott stayed while Freeborg's business acumen helped the company grow.By 1998, he was overseeing the company and refining the company's business plan. Freeborg remembers when the company purchased it's first large format digital printer, a Hewlett-Packard. Freeborg had purchased a plot of land for the expansion for $50,000 in 1996.But by the time the company was ready to build 10 years later the property had appreciated tenfold. "The land appreciated so much I didn't have to put up so much capital." Despite the company's continued success -- by the end of 2006, the company topped $1 million sales -- a bank didn't want to lend the necessary funds for the property's development.So Bud Wiesbord, a friend of 40 years, lent Freeborg a good chunk of the needed funds. On a Saturday in September of 2005, Freeborg was all alone working on the completion of the new building.Working on a roll-up door in the back, Freeborg placed one foot on the building and another on a truck high above the ground.Then it happened. "I just launched myself on the back of the door and down I went." Freeborg landed on the hot blacktop at full force.With blood running down his face from broken eyeglasses he realized he was severely injured.Without the use of his arm, he used he teeth to take off his work gloves and slowly pressed 911. "Whatever you do, I cannot drop the phone," he told himself. But help would be delayed. "This is 911," he remembers hearing."Due to extremely heavy calls we cannot take your call right now." "It happened four times," he said. Finally, a dispatcher took his call and "within five seconds I heard sirens."As a result of the fall, Freeborg broke his right shoulder, including the ball joint, and broke his left elbow in seven pieces. Doctors first repaired his arm, then his shoulder a day later. "I've got 11 pieces of metal in my shoulder.There were 17 pieces in my arm." Once again Freeborg was placed in a convalescent home.He needed to be fed, bathed and assisted when he went to the bathroom. As soon as Freeborg was able, he began attending his many business-related activities.
Alverov strikes gold | Russia chapter thriving | scholarship and grant recipients | Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology | high-speed a way of life for early SPIE member Dick Freeborghigh-speed a way of life for early SPIE member Dick Freeborg Russia chapter thrivingSPIE Russia Chapter celebrates 10th anniversaryDownload PDF of this article High-speed a way of life for early SPIE member Dick FreeborgDownload PDF of this article Freeborg, right, congratulating Lyle Shelton in 1989 on his world record of 850.25 km/h at low altitude on a 3-km course.Although Richard "Dick" Freeborg was in the 1352nd Photographic Squadron, United States Air Force, in Korea when SPIE was formed, as soon as he became a civilian in 1959, he joined SPIE. By working for Bell & Howell, he earned enough money to finish his BA at Woodbury College in California.Freeborg then began working for TRAID Corporation (TRaining AIDs), the military marketing arm of Bell & Howell.TRAID was busy modifying standard B & H cameras to run the then-amazing speed of 200 frames/s using stacked spools, which were the forerunners of Milliken high-speed cameras. Freeborg was hired in 1967 by Photo-Sonics, where he launched Instrumentation Marketing Corporation (IMC), a marketing group that sold Photo-Sonics products and other complementary equipment manufactured by Adtrol and Vanguard Instrument Co.As IMC expanded, NAC, PhotoMatrix, and others joined, resulting in the introduction of more than 25 new products, some of which are still in use today in the aerospace, military, automotive, industrial, and educational fields. Ruth and Dick Freeborg. In 1991 Freeborg became president of NAC Visual Systems when they established a U.S. corporation to directly market their products, which included a high-speed video recording system. In his spare time, Freeborg certified aviation speed record attempts for the National Aeronautics Association (NAA).He filmed and computed the 3-km world record speed run of Darrell Greenameyer, who flew his Lockheed F-104 Star fighter 988.260 mph below 300 feet altitude -- a record that still stands.He also documented the record-setting runs of Lyle Shelton's Grumman F-8F Bearcat, "Rare Bear." Freeborg, right, with L.A. Dodgers center fielder Duke Snider in 1960 using a Traid Corp. radio remote control camera on the field at Dodger Stadium.The camera was designed to take pictures on the field, where photographers were not allowed, by a remote control operated from the stands. Since the NAA rules for these attempts require flight at extremely low altitudes, they are the most dangerous flights in aviation.Freeborg witnessed many crashes, some fatal, while certifying these records. Freeborg was the official West Coast NAA observer for the high altitude flight of the SR-71 "Blackbird" going from West to East Coast in 1 hour, 7 min., 53.69 s, or 2124.51 mph.He remains a member of the advisory staff of NAA's Contest and Records Board. In 1995, Freeborg retired to Apple Valley, CA. After his short sabbatical from working, he became a co-owner of the family business, Hightech Signs. During his spare time riding his Wave Runner, Freeborg experienced a high-speed collision.After a year of recovery, Freeborg was back to work without a limp -- though he has been known to set off airport security detectors with all the metal in his body. He enjoys building and flying RC airplanes, gardening, restoring classic cars (including a 1941 Cadillac Coupe originally owned by SPIE Founder Carlos Elmer), fishing, hiking, and camping with his wife, Ruth, in their motor home.He especially enjoys the many friendships from his more than 35 years of SPIE conferences.Freeborg and his wife have twin sons, a daughter, and four grandchildren.