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 Chapter 3 

Those Famous Fly-in Breakfasts 

In February 1953, Gabby  Renninger was elected to his first term as president of the Pottstown Aircraft Owners and Pilots, Inc.  One of his first acts as president was to visit Floyd J. Sisto, airport manager and manager of Jacobs Aircraft Engine Company, which then owned the airport, to propose a fly-in breakfast on the airport grounds. 
   "No one will come," stated Sisto with some finality in his voice. 
   But Gabby was persistent.  "If they fly in we will make breakfast for them, then shuttle them by car to the Jacobs plant to see how those good engines were made." 
   That last part of the plan may have clinched the deal with Sisto! 
   The first Fly-in Breakfast took place on July 26, 1953.  From all directions they came, new planes, old planes, self-made planes, swooping down from the skies onto the airport landing strip.  The final score was 42 airplanes landing and 130 customers for a delicious Pennsylvania Dutch-style breakfast. 
   The facilities for preparing breakfast were not as efficient then as they were in later years.  The 1953 breakfast was cooked over a fireplace and several small charcoal stoves. In later years four large bottled gas Army surplus stoves took over the cooking detail.  Paul Focht supplied the food. 
   Gabby credits his late wife Amy with sparking the original idea for the breakfasts. She insisted that half of the restaurants in which the couple had eaten didn't know how to fry potatoes.  So she showed the PAOP members how to make them the right way.  Therefore, for all the fly-in breakfasts from 1953 on, visitors were eating Amy's fried potatoes. 
   One of Amy's secrets was parboiling the potatoes the afternoon before, letting them cool, removing the skins and slicing them.  They were all ready for the frying pan on Sunday morning.  The women didn't like to skin potatoes but finally they all agreed to help. 
   That first event in 1953 was the beginning of 37 very successful fly-ins under Gabby's supervision.  Only the 1987 event to be scrubbed because of uncooperative weather.  That year both the original date and the rain date were complete washouts. 
   One of the purposes of such events is to promote private flying for both business and recreational purposes.  In 1977 one of the lady pilots attending the fly-in was Velda Beidler of Bally, Pennsylvania.  She and her husband Gordon were members of the "Sky Ten Flying Club".  The name was derived from the fact that ten couples had pooled their resources to purchase a Cessna Cardinal.  The plane was based at the Queen City Airport, near Allentown, Pennsylvania and was used by the couples on a rotation basis.