There really is no destination. The actual destination is the journey itself.
Fred Kessler ’62 grew up surrounded by airplane talk. His father was a pilot throughout the 1930s and ’40s and always had aviation publications lying around the house, so flying was inevitable. Kessler began taking lessons in 1957, at age 17, and received his private pilot’s license two years later. Last year, he received a Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award from the Federal Aviation Administration, given to pilots who have exhibited professionalism, skill and aviation expertise for at least 50 years.
During his 60 years as a pilot, flying has changed a lot. In its earliest, preradio days, pilots navigated by following landmarks. At night, they followed light beacons. During the 1950s and ’60s, VHF and VOR radio navigation became standard. About 30 years ago, GPS navigation came on the scene, which, says Kessler, makes it “impossible to get lost.”
Kessler has flown to Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, the Bahamas, Canada and much of the United States. He flies several times a year to a summer home in New Hampshire in his six-seater Beechcraft Baron, and to Florida every winter. His wife, Gini Reeser Kessler ’63, serves as co-pilot.
“This sounds like we don’t work much, but that’s not the case,” he jokes.
An economics major at Bucknell, Kessler earned a J.D. from the Dickinson School of Law, then a master’s in law from New York University School of Law in 1966. He’s lived and worked near Lewisburg, Pa., ever since, first as a tax lawyer, now as founder and president of Nottingham Village, a continuing-care retirement community in Northumberland, Pa.
His son-in-law is also a pilot, and Kessler has begun showing the ropes to his 6-year-old grandson, son of daughter Amanda Kessler ’93. The most important lesson? “There really is no destination,” says Fred. “The actual destination is the journey itself.”