Forty years ago, I believe, in 1983, I met a distinguished gentleman from Louisiana at the spring NAAA board meeting in Washington, D.C. Unknown to me since I was a newcomer to being an NAAA representative for the Georgia Agricultural Aviation Association, the gentleman was Mr. Jack Keahey. We were at the hotel bar, of course, when he introduced himself. Both of us being from the South, we hit it off immediately. That night began a longtime relationship that evolved into becoming friends with his son, Drew, and his grandson Reed.
Not long after that meeting in D.C., I traveled to Keahey Flying Service in Columbia, Louisiana, to write an article about Drew breaking into the business, mentored by Jack. Jack was easing out of his ag seat to focus on his farm. This put Drew at the reins of Keahey Flying Service. Since then, a lot of history has passed, filled with good times for the 59-year-old company.
History has a way of repeating itself. As Jack did with Drew, the same format was followed when Drew brought his son Reed into the business. Again, like Jack, Drew got out of the ag-seat and started farming full time, while now, Reed owns and operates Keahey Flying Service.
It has been interesting to watch us “older” generation ag operators pass the torch to our sons; Jack Frost to Garrett, Grant Lane to Logan, Eddie Shores to Jack, Pat Kornegay to Clyde and Austin and the list goes on and on, including Graham and me. I believe all these fathers consider themselves fortunate to be able to pass on the business to their children. I surely know that I am grateful. I realize that I am naming only a small group of fathers and sons, as there are many more, too many to list in this editorial. It is a very special trait.
Reed flew for Drew for ten years, from 2013 until 2023. This year he approached Drew to devise a plan to buy the company. Today, Reed flies an AT-402B and Drew farms full time. However, I am sure that Reed can call on Drew anytime for advice.
Stories like the above happen every year in the ag-aviation business. It is a good story that reflects the closeness of family. It can be tough that first year watching your “child” takeoff with a load knowing the learning curve can be very unforgiving. However, with a love for the business and the mentoring by the father to the son, it is a good thing.
Until next month, Keep Turning…