In the 1960s, Mr. Gonserkevis, a former welder and air conditioning and heating contractor, joined the Experimental Aircraft Association and built his first aircraft, a low-winged single-passenger sport plane called a Fly Baby.
Over the next decade, he built many more planes in his garage and basement, culminating in his largest project, a low-winged two-passenger sport plane he designed as a low-cost, home-built variation of a Piper Cherokee.
"The Piper Cherokee cost $30,000 at the time," said his son, Michael J. Gonserkevis of Mullica Hill. "If (my father) spent $8,000, that was a lot." Mr. Gonserkevis first flew his Poor Man's Cherokee in 1970 out of the Pitman Airport, which closed about three years ago. He also flew out of the former Bridgeport Airport, Cross Keys Airport and Leddens Airfield in Aura, Gloucester County.
He was designated as a technical adviser to the Experimental Aircraft Association 12 years ago.