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Finding time to fly

Earning a pilot license redefines life for a successful real estate entrepreneur

When Mike McVean touches down, he knows all eyes are on his Citation® Mustang®. The gorgeous, glossy red and black paint scheme stands out, especially against the white, wintry landscape in Telluride, Colorado. The empty nester is living the dream life, flying between ski slopes and beaches and squeezing in business at his offices across the country.

When the second of his two boys went to college, McVean packed his Mustang with his clothes, workout equipment, road bike, fishing gear and skis and set off to play and work on his own terms.

“I love it. It’s awesome. I have everything I need with me,” said McVean, who co-founded Stream Realty Partners in 1996 with Lee Belland.

“Being an empty nester with a jet is the coolest thing in the world.”Mike McVean, Cessna Citation Mustang owner and pilot

Headquartered in Dallas, Stream Realty operates offices in nine cities across the country. McVean and his team of more than 650 employees acquire, develop, manage and lease commercial and multi-family properties, tallying $1.6 billion in real estate transactions annually.

After many long hours helping build the company, McVean discovered his passion for flying quite by accident.

“I decided to buy an airplane and hire a pilot to help our business. When I started shopping for airplanes, I realized the sales guys were speaking another language. I didn’t understand what they were saying. I thought I would take a couple of flying lessons and get a book to look up the terminology so I could better understand. I took one lesson and I loved it. I was hooked,” said McVean, who quickly progressed through all of the licenses and ratings.

“I dove into it head first. I took the lessons as frequently and as quickly as I could without hurting my family or my business. I wasn’t playing golf or doing some other hobby that was taking a lot of time. Taking lessons and learning to fly became my favorite hobby. I did it early in the mornings during the week and on weekends. I just dove into it and started tackling it,” said McVean, who also credits a supportive business partner and great employees working on autopilot while he was away training.

“Taking lessons and learning to fly became my favorite hobby.”Mike McVean, Cessna Citation Mustang owner and pilot

“My first flight lesson was on September 27, 2007. When I finished my private pilot license, the next day I started my instrument. As soon as I completed my instrument, I started on my commercial and multi-engine. I just kept going, even earning my ATP, the highest level certificate.”

Up and flying quickly, McVean bought a Beechcraft® Bonanza® to speed his single-engine piston training. He had purchased a Beechcraft King Air® and hired a pilot for his business, so McVean planned to use the King Air to build multi-engine time.

He completed each transition to reach his ultimate goal. From the beginning, McVean admired the Mustang most. Approved for single-pilot operation, the light jet offered the right combination of speed, range, altitude and looks. McVean worked with Cessna and his flight training program to develop a road map for his training.

Aircraft training in days

*Simulator training not required, but completing it offers added proficiency and often lowers insurance rates. In-aircraft training is also available.

McVean took his first lesson at age 45 and took delivery of his beloved Mustang just before turning 50. He can’t imagine life without the aircraft.

“The Mustang is like my car. I take it everywhere,” he said. “I look at it all with some wonderment. When I was younger, I didn’t think it would be possible. I also look at it with a deep, deep sense of gratitude. I can’t believe how lucky I am that I had the money to do it and the people to support me in the quest. And, there’s a feeling of accomplishment and pride, too. I was pretty proud that I did what I set out to do. It was a tall mountain to climb, but I did it.”

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