Page 34 of 74 
Previous Page 

Back to PAOP Home Page 

Back to Table of Contents 

Next Page 

 given, the person lets go and the bag opens to spill the flowers, but remains hooked to the finger. 

Members of the PAOP, including Gabby Renninger, have gone along with the pilots to drop flowers.  When Amy Spohn Renninger died on October 29, 1987, the Black Sheep Squadron flew over the Hill Church cemetery in Pikesville in three different formations in tribute to Gabby's beloved wife and co-pilot. 

The Squadron was honored in 1986 with a plaque and certificates of public recognition by the United Veterans Organization in Nesquehoning, and with a plaque from the State Commander of the American Legion.

 Chapter 6 

Laughter, Sorrow, Accomplishment  

Gabby Renninger has experienced laughter, sorrow, and pride of accomplishment in his association with aviation and other community organizations over the past years. 

In October 1947, two years after he returned from service in the Army Air Force, Gabby witnessed fellow aviator Frank A. Lawrence crash his Aeronca plane into an oak tree at the Flyer's Roost.  He was the first person on the scene and rushed over to drag Frank out of the wreckage. 

Every time he saw his rescuer thereafter Frank would say, "Thanks to you, Gabby, I am still alive." 

In October 1948 Gabby took his parents on their first airplane flight, in celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary.  His mother enjoyed the flight very much, but his dad climbed out of the plane declaring, "I have no business being in the air!" 

On November 25, 1950 Gabby purchased his first and only plane, a Cessna 140 85 hp engine, No #1932-N, from Paul Mitchell for $1,295.00 in cash. He enjoyed it for nearly five years until he had accident which cost him the sight in one eye.  On May 20, 1955 he sold it for $1,895.00 to Jacobs Aircraft Engine Company. 

Life changed for Gabby on February 17, 1955.  He had been helping to repair a hangar door at the Limerick Airport when a piece of steel flew into his left eye. 

He was rushed to Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia to have the steel piece removed.  He was hospitalized for 41 days, with ten stitches in his eye.  When he was discharged he knew he would never have sight in that eye again. With only one seeing eye, his depth perception would be off too much to fly his own plane again. 

It was a hard blow to take for a young man whose greatest interest in life was to fly, but he managed to adjust to the situation.  For six months he was unable to read his mail or newspapers and could not go to work.  When he did return, he was given a different job because of his disability.  Gradually his right eye became stronger. 

"Thank God I have one good eye," he told his friends, "so I can still see and enjoy life." 

Still recovering from the freak accident, he married Amy K. Spohn of Boyertown on May 27, 1955 in Elkton, Maryland.  Gabby and Amy returned to Limerick that evening and joined the Pilots club dinner meeting at Lakeside Inn for their wedding dinner. 

On doctor's orders, Amy was required to blindfold her new husband each night so that he wouldn't rub his eye while sleeping and do further damage.