The Gaddis' Take Flight

January 29, 2021

Ohio natives, John and Doris Gaddis met while studying at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. John was a double major in biology and chemistry on a pre-med college track and Doris was a double major in chemistry and math. The two met while working at their university restaurant on campus. John’s career in Abbott Labs as an executive recruiter led to them relocating to various cities in Ohio, Philadelphia, and Chicago, where they eventually retired after their three children moved.

Doris shares that her interest in air travel began when she was in the second grade after her teacher told her they should learn the metric system, since air travel at the time was seen as the transportation mode of the future. John had always had a passion for aviation and his relationship and shared interest with Doris strengthened his enthusiasm. By the time their three children had grown up and moved out, the two were licensed and seasoned pilots.

“When we bought our first home in Ohio, we worked together to remodel all of the wallpaper in the house,” reminisces Doris. “I thought that if we could get through that, we could accomplish anything together. So we decided to build our own plane!” After some research, the two found an air plane manufacturing company in Arlington, Washington called Glasair Aviation USA, and flew there to test the prototype airplane model they were interested in. “We worked with the model for about a week,” said John. “We decided on the Glasair II; it’s an all fiberglass model and features a cantilever low-wing with gull-wing doors, and can fly about 200 miles an hour.” The manufacturing kit was delivered to their Chicago home in a huge flatbed truck, measuring 27 feet long and 5 feet wide and weighing 1,400 pounds. It took the couple a month just to inventory all of the materials in the kit and eight and a half years to finish assembling the plane. After the two completed the required 25 hours of test flights from the Federal Aviation Administration, they were free to explore the world in the plane they had spent almost a decade building together.

“Our first trip was to Burlington, Wisconsin,” said Doris. “There is a restaurant on the plane field there where we met other pilots, some of who became dear friends, and we have many fond memories of breakfast together there after long flights.” Over the next few years, the couple would travel all across the United States, making frequent stops to visit their three children in their home cities of Boone, Iowa, Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon. “Building our plane was like getting a totally new college education,” said John. “The greatest experience I gained from this whole venture was the time spent with John building the plane, and growing and learning with each other,” shared Doris.”

John and Doris’ last big flight together was to visit various retirement communities across America. Lake Prince Woods was the last community they visited, and they instantly felt at home. “Lake Prince Woods was the final stop on our search for a retirement community,” said Doris. “The community offers us the same space and freedom that we’ve known all our lives. Once we got here we knew that of all the places we’ve traveled, Lake Prince Woods is where we wanted to be.”

 Lake Prince Woods is a residential retirement community offering a range of different lifestyle choices.  Located in Suffolk, Virginia, the community is nestled among 172 acres of woods bordering Lake Prince.  As a continuing care retirement community, Lake Prince Woods offers residential living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing care, and Lake Prince At Home, a home health agency. To learn more, visit our website at