Off the Clock: Flying High with Sue Wolverton

Coldwell Banker’s Sue Wolverton pilots her own jet aircraft.

By Ilene Denton Photography by Barbara Banks June 15, 2015

by Ilene Denton

Photography by Barbara Banks

Bbp 4138 sue wolverton oowuch

HOW DOES a high-powered real estate executive unwind? If you’re Sue Wolverton, Coldwell Banker’s regional senior vice president for Southwest Florida, you jump into your own Cessna Citation II jet aircraft, a sleek nine-seater (plus pilot and co-pilot) that travels 400 knots per hour at 43,000 feet, “the same altitude as commercial flights,” she says.

“You work hard, you want to play hard, too,” she says.

Wolverton, who oversees 1,000 agents in 20 offices from Bradenton to Marco Island, has been with Coldwell Banker for 39 years, starting in Atlanta and moving to Sarasota in 1998. She’s been flying for 20 years, and now shares piloting duties with her husband of nine years, financial adviser Woody Wolverton.

“My husband started as a helicopter pilot in the military and has owned many planes,” she says. “Once we got married we bought a small four-seater, went to a six-seater, then a twin-engine, then to this one.” He uses it for business, she says, while together they mostly visit family in Oklahoma and New Orleans—although with the jet’s range, “We could probably fly as far as Las Vegas,” she says.

The Wolvertons also take local youth flying through Girls Incorporated and the Sarasota Military Academy, where Woody is a board member. And “It’s nice to do things with friends on a whim,” she says. “We flew to New Orleans one time, had dinner and flew back.”

Wolverton says she made it a lifetime goal to become a pilot. Although more young women are now pursuing careers with commercial airlines, she says, it’s still unusual to see female pilots in private aviation.

“Multitasking is important,” she says. “There’s constant fast-paced communication with the controllers. The equipment is very sophisticated so you have to be technologically savvy. There’s a lot to do all the time. And of course, if you have a crisis you have to keep level-headed and work through it."

And all that, she says, is exactly why she loves piloting. “For Type A people, it’s relaxing. We all keep seven things in our head all the time. The only thing you can do when you’re piloting is concentrate and focus—and fly.” ■

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