Aircraft Design Pioneer
Herman A. Zierold was born April 15, 1908 in Wilkensburg, PA, a suburb of Pittsburgh. He was the only son and had three older sisters who have predeceased him.
Herman had polio at an early age but he never let that hinder his daily activities during his life. He always had a positive attitude. Herman became infatuated with aviation after seeing the Wright Brothers give a flying demonstration. In 1925 he went to Kansas City to learn aircraft carpentry. In 1927 he learned to fly. After that his first important job was at the original Lockheed plant in Hollywood, CA.
When Herman applied for work, there were no openings for carpenters but they did have one position for a metal worker. Herman decided that being around flying machines was worth taking the job, even though airplanes did not have much metal work on them…yet. After that, Herman worked for several other aircraft companies, some eventually became TWA Airlines. These companies, and Herman, made airplanes for many of the early long distance aviation pioneers such as Sir Herbert Wilkins, A. Harold Bromley, Pancho Barnes, etc.) at Loughead “Lockheed.” He also worked on the early DC-1 and DC-2 airplane design and performed many aircraft tests (examples larger engines, high altitude tests, operating aircraft in extreme weather conditions).
In 1937 Herman married his wife, Betty (married almost 60 years). In 1938 Herman and Betty began the Zierold Manufacturing Company in his father’s garage in Los Angeles, CA. In 1939 he began full time manufacturing operations in Burbank, CA. He became an expert in deep drawn aluminum boxes and containers and was awarded patents on his deep drawn aluminum processes. Herman Zierold developed and manufactured the case for the “Gibson Girl” transceiver used in emergencies during WWII. Herman and Betty sold their company in 1952. At the time of the sale, Herman wanted to retain rights to his name and since the aluminum boxes were often referred to “Zero boxes” the new company was called Zero Manufacturing. They then settled in North Hollywood to raise their three children. During this time both Herman and Betty became very active at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and School in North Hollywood. After retirement from the factory, Herman became involved in land for farming in Montana. He thoroughly enjoyed the mountain traveling and backwoods experience. In 1975 they moved to Sun City, Arizona and he and Betty became member of Our Saviour Lutheran Church. Herman and Betty also were very interested in and supported the Lutheran High School during these Arizona years. Herman was widowed when his wife, Betty, passed away on January 11, 1998. He is survived by his son, Nelson, daughter, Diane and daughter-in-law, Karolyn. In lieu of flowers, family request donations to Lutheran Braille Workers, Inc., (a non profit corp.), P.O. Box 5000, Yucaipa, CA 92399-1450 Nelson Zierold and Diane Zierold (written by Nelson Zierold and Diane Zierold, Herman’s children)
A. Zierold, Took his Last Flight Monday, Dec. 28,1998. Herman A. Zierold, OX5 #2426, passed away Monday, Dec. 28, 1998 in Sun City, Arizona. Now that all the Early Birds of Aviation pioneers are gone, our next senior group of pioneer aviators is OX5 Aviation Pioneers. The OX5 group got its name from the OX5 engine used during WWI in Jenny’s that were flown by many barnstormers of the early days. Herman was one of this group of inventive aviation pioneers and I’ll keep posting information about him on my new web site as I get it..but for now, this is a “heads up” story. I’m feeding this to Lockheed, my friends at Aviation Week, Associated Press, New York Times and others, therefore, please check Aviation Archives’ web site for the latest information. Herman went to work at Lockheed in 1927 in the Sheet Metal shop; worked on Sir Hubert Wilkins Lockheed Vega; was roommates with Jack Fry, founder of TWA Airlines, when they started in Los Angeles aviation; and while working at the Hollywood Lockheed factory, saw Howard Hughes working on his steam car that Hughes was developing his steam car in the other half of the Lockheed building. Herman and his wife of 60 years, Betty Zierold, founded Zero Manufacturing.
–Carol L. Osborne Aviation Historian