“It was ten minutes but it felt like an eternity,” said Property Markets Group CEO Kevin Maloney of a terrifying flight he took through severe turbulence over Florida when he was still in his teens. “Trays were flying up and hitting the ceiling, people were screaming and throwing up. From that moment on I was a very bad flyer.” But today, the Xanax and Ambien he once took to help him handle his anxiety about flying are a distant memory for Maloney, who now pilots his own TMB 850 turbo prop a few times a month to visit the many luxury apartment developments his company owns in Miami as well as its Sarasota golf course-side homes.
How did he go from being terrified of flying to being in total control of a cockpit? Some 15 years ago, Maloney’s then girlfriend surprised him by giving him flying lessons as a present. “She said she didn’t think I really was scared of flying,” Maloney recalled. “She thought it was a control issue. It turned out she was right.” Maloney agreed to give flying a try and soon was spending every Tuesday with a flight instructor in a Cessna. “They put you in the pilot seat from the very beginning,” Maloney said. “Right away they have you taking off. It’s always bumpy in a small plane, but I wasn’t scared. Things felt different when I was in charge of my own fate.”
Based in New York City, Maloney flies to Miami every week, always on a commercial jet. His experience as a pilot has smoothed his nerves for these flights too. “When I fly commercially and the plane is coming down in bad weather, no visibility, I think, ‘I’ve been here many times before.’ I know how the computer tells everything you need to know to get through those situations.”
His anxiety left far behind, Maloney actually finds flying restful now, a break from the stresses and concerns of his fast-paced business life. “You have to stop what you’re doing and concentrate completely,” he said. “Up in the sky, you detach from the day to day. It takes my mind off work. We all need something like that."