M.510 First Officer  Earl Lamar Renicker 
flag usa   b. 16 Nov 1906, Minot ND 23 Mar 1941 to 7 Feb 1942 

ata earl renicker  ATA

     

 

 Father: Sherman Edward Renicker (a shoemaker), Mother: Della Marie [Thornton], of 803 Dayton, Wichita, Kansas

Ed. Hutchinson High School, Kansas

 prev. Pressman for McCormick-Armstrong , Wichita; Pilot for Vacin Flying Service, Enid, Oklahoma; 2nd Lieut., Air Corps Reserves 1940-41

prev. exp. 725 hrs

"A very doubtful starter. Flies unintelligently but might be given the chance of some work in Class I before firmly deciding whether or no he is suitable for conversion to Class II" - Initial Flight Test Report, 1 April 1941


Postings: 2FPP, 14FPP

In June 1941 he applied for permission to possess a .45 automatic "for self protection in case of emergency"

He completed Class III and IV training in October 1941, but "in view of the fact that his claim to 700 hrs previous experience has not been verified and that he has not been thoroughly tried out in Class 2, his progression to more difficult types should be closely supervised"

 

4 accidents, 1½ his fault:

- 30 Sep 1941, he 'mishandled' the brakes of his Proctor BV545 at Netheravon, and nosed over while taxying

- 7 Dec 1941, the port leg of his Hampden AT145 collapsed, after a normal landing at High Ercall

- 22 Dec 1941, taxying another Hampden, AT174, under ground crew guidance, the tail hit a barbed wire fence (jointly to blame)

"The three accidents he has had recently rather indicate a certain carelessness on his part and I suggest that he is given a final warning to the effect that another accident directly attributable to his negligence will result in his dismissal" 14 FPP CO Bobby Wardle, 29 Dec 1941

 

 

d. 7 Feb 1942 (Died in ATA Service) - Hampden AT231 crashed on Lord Bradford's Estate, Weston under Lizard, Staffs after port engine fire.

He and Bill Elliott  were buried at Altrincham Bowden and Hale Cemetery,Cheshire, near Hubert Dixon.

 

ata william elliott funeral 1  ata william elliott funeral 2

"Senior officers were present, with American members of the ATA. RAF men bore the two coffins, which were covered with flags, the Stars and Stripes of America. Air Transport Auxiliary pilots followed the coffin. An RAF Chaplain officiated, and the vicar of Timperley, the Rev. Dr Lindare, assisted.

Mrs Emily Lawrence, with whom Renicker was billeted, was at the funeral" - Manchester Evening News, via George Cogswell

  via George Cogswell

 

ATA Memorial Earl Renicker  with thanks to Barbara Grayson

Earl's mother wrote to his landlady, Mrs Lawrence: "It just seems like I can't get over it, I was looking forward to seeing him this spring. It was such a terrible shock. You all were so nice to give him such a nice funeral, and I'm so appreciative. 

Honey, I just write awhile and then cry awhile."


 Postscript

Although Earl said that he was 'single' and specified his mother Della as his next of kin on his ATA Form, it later turned out that this was not quite the whole truth: he had in fact married Thelma Jane [Lavigne] on the 26 Aug 1929 in Spearfish, Lawrence, ND, and they had a daughter, Dorothy Ilene (b. 1926). Thelma wrote to the ATA in March 1942:

"I am writing in regards for information concerning the death of my husband. Mr Earl Renicker who was killed Feb 7. We received word through his mother in Wichita, Kans of his death. We have tried many times to get in tuch with him through his mother with out success. Family trouble. We have a daughter Dorothy. She went to visit her grandmother & while their a Mr Ralph Holcombe who was in service with her father in England. He told her about her father & the work he was doing in England. That was the first information we had in regards to him."

Thelma then volunteered the information that she and Earl had divorced 19 May 1941, 2 months after he joined the ATA, but still insisted that Dorothy (age 16) should be his next of kin.

The ATA Insurance, plus the balance of his estate, amounted to £2,103 16s 11d. This was ready to be paid by September 1942, but was held up "awaiting decision of US Courts as to legal claimant".

The only clue I have as to what happened is in a letter from Earl's mother Della, dated 12 Oct 1942:

"Dear Sir: In answer to your recent letter I want to say that I received the disc and chain of Earl's and will see that his daughter gets it, and I want to thank you very much for sending it, also thank you for every thing. You people have certainly been good to us,

Sincerely, Mrs S E Renicker"

 

Dorothy later married a Mr Paul E Rusher in Ohio, and died in 2007.


 Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):download grey

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