Florida couple who built own plane still flying high

For Bob and Joan Zaleski, it was love at first flight.

The Naples, Florida, couple met in the late ’70s at a flight school in Chicago. Joan worked in the office and Bob was a flight instructor. He taught her how to fly a plane when she was 19.

After tying the knot, they knew someday they’d have a plane of their own, but it wasn’t until they retired and moved from Illinois to Naples that they finally had a chance to realize that dream.

Rather than buy a plane, however, they decided to build one themselves.

“When you retire, you decide to do something, so we thought building an airplane might be fun,” Bob, 66, said with a laugh.

“We really hadn’t given it a lot of thought,” Joan, 59, added, “but we were inspired, so we said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ ”

While Bob did confess that putting a plane together was more challenging than not, he also said he felt confident in their ability. He flew for 40 years as a commercial pilot and was a licensed aircraft mechanic, and Joan spent decades working in general aviation.

Previously: Naples couple builds, flies experimental airplane around Southwest Florida, up to Chicago

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