Marmy Clason's thrill of aviation is one fueled largely by her sense of accomplishment in having built her own aircraft.
When Clason, chair of the Communication Department at Mount Mary College in Milwaukee, and her husband, Jack Beck, set out to construct their own two-passenger plane in January 2006, Clason initially left the heavy lifting to Beck. Without much experience turning socket wrenches or working with any kind of tools, Clason insisted that Beck, former chief flight instructor for North Star Aviation, take charge of piecing the plane together.
But after her husband asked her to help with the learning process of riveting, Clason was unexpectedly hooked.
The two collaborated steadily for almost four years, first constructing the tail of the Van's Aircraft RV-9A model with a kit they ordered, followed by the wings and then the fuselage. They then attached the engine, completed all the wiring, assembled the propeller and finally secured all individual parts together.
"It's not as intimidating as it sounds," Clason said.
While the pair built the bulk of their plane in their basement and garage, they had to move it to a hanger to finish fastening all of the components. Today they store their plane, which is almost all aluminum, at a hanger at the West Bend Municipal Airport.
Since the plane passed an extensive inspection and certification process, Clason and Beck try to fly almost every weekend year round, taking day drips to Michigan's Upper Peninsula for hiking and sightseeing and longer vacations to national parks around the country.
Beck is also helping Clason learn how to fly. She aims to get her pilot's license.
The husband and wife team has considered constructing a second plane – if they can pull themselves away from flying long enough to do so.
"Doing something with my hands and building is really fun," Clason said.