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Alvin E. Renninger was born April 4, 1917 in a fourteen-room farmhouse in Limerick, Pennsylvania. His parents were Solomon E. and Estella Erb Renninger and he was part of a family of fourteen children, eight boys and six girls. The family attended St. James Lutheran Church in Limerick, where Gabby sang in the choir and received a pin for nine consecutive years of Sunday School attendance.
His early years were spent in Limerick Elementary School. There was no facility for secondary education in the Limerick area at that time, so he attended Pottstown Junior High School and graduated from Pottstown Senior High School with the class of 1936.
Aviation was born on December 17, 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina when Orville and Wilbur Wright made their historic flight. For Gabby it was born one day in June 1927 when he was only ten years old.
He was helping to make hay on the family farm when he looked up and saw an airplane directly overhead. It was flying at about 400 feet and the two men in the open cockpit were waving to the people below.
"Boy! This is for me," said Gabby. From then on he clipped out every Newspaper article and picture having to do with airplanes. He pasted them in composition notebooks with a home-made mixture of flour and water. For years he kept fifteen of these notebooks, as well as hundreds of model airplanes which he had carved from wood.
That first airplane Gabby sighted was an OX-5 Eaglerock biplane, flown by Miles Ether, with Wayne Geary in the passenger seat. The two men had taken off from Allentown and landed on Walter Zamorski's large dairy farm off Ridge Pike in Limerick, two miles from the Renninger farm. Later Gabby was to meet the two men who had waved to him.
The following year, Wayne Geary bought the Zamorski's farm and began to equip it as an airport. The barn served as the first hangar. The Limerick airport had been in operation only a short time when it was chosen to host a very important celebration.
The Question Mark Sets a Record