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Thousands of neighbors fighting for widow of WWII fighter pilot to keep late husband’s private plane

A short boat ride to upper Captiva and a quick drive on the golf cart will take you to Hidden Lane where you’ll find a BD-4 plane in Sue Ann Cousar’s front yard.

“Many think that it was wrecked and I say, ‘No, no, it’s under construction,'” Cousar said.

Her husband, Bob, spent nearly their entire marriage building the plane by hand, but he never finished. The WWII pilot passed away two years ago.

“He loves it. He always loved working on it,” Cousar said. “Right up until he couldn’t, he’d come down and do this or that on it.”

This vintage plane sits on Sue Ann Cousar’s front yard. (WINK News)

She said the plane has sat in her front yard for more than a decade. Lee County Code Enforcement cited her for a nuisance violation in April after someone complained.

“Somebody has too much time on their hands,” neighbor Nicole Rossi figures.

She’s one of many neighbors and tourists rallying around Cousar. They’re signing a petition to let her keep the plane.

“There’s history,” Rossi said. “It brings something different to the island, which is what this island is all about.”

Cousar said she’s put on a new tire and pushed back the plane further into the trees.

“Sometimes we save things from loved ones that have passed that were very significant to them and you kind of hold on to them,” she explained, hoping to hold on to a memory of her husband.

Cousar will make her case to keep the plane during a hearing at the end of September. The county can postpone hearings and re-inspections if the property owner makes progress in correcting the violation.

Lee County says the goal of Code Enforcement is to “bring the property into compliance” and states the fact that the plane is inoperable is a factor in the violation.

They say the code requires the property owner to be given a “reasonable time” to bring the property into compliance, in this case, it has been about four months.

Lee County Code Enforcement received a complaint about the property regarding the plane and makeshift dumpster on March 20.  On April 29, a violation was issued for nuisance accumulation. The July date is likely an extension based on communication with the property owner, who requested more time to comply. Re-inspections and a postponed hearing is possible if the property owner makes progress in correcting the violation.

Reporter:Taylor Petras
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