ARSA Doubly Recognizes Latimer’s Impact
On March 10, ARSA bestowed its oldest and newest honors on long-time association volunteer leader David Latimer, HAECO Americas vice president of regulatory compliance. Retiring after decades in service to the aviation maintenance industry, Latimer earned ARSA’s Leo Weston Award for Excellence in Service to Aviation Safety as well as the first official Executive Director’s “Golden Shovel” award.
The Weston award was established in 2005 and first given to Leo himself. As an FAA official, he advocated for the creation of an organization to represent the interests of maintenance providers and was pivotal in ARSA’s founding. He was a lifelong aviator and educator whose passion was kindled at a Philadelphia high school and continued through military, civil, government and volunteer service that ceased only with his passing in November 2020. In his honor, the association regularly recognizes individuals who have furthered the principles of good government. This year’s presentation was made during lunch on the “Symposium Day” of ARSA’s 2022 Annual Conference.
Latimer not only embodies Weston’s commitment to the industry; he is a role model for younger technicians pursuing aviation maintenance careers. Rather than following his siblings to a four-year college degree, he joined the Navy and built his natural technical talent while exploring the world. He obtained an FAA mechanic certificate after completing military service. His civilian career from technician to executive was earned by seeking mentors and observing the work of more experienced professionals. He joined ARSA’s board in 2004, serving nearly 20 years as a director and rotating through each leadership position multiple times – including two terms as president.
“David is the perfect example of what a committed aviation maintenance professional can achieve,” ARSA Executive Director Sarah MacLeod said in 2018 when Latimer was elected to his second term as president. “He is a technician who ‘made good’ on his skills and potential, becoming a respected industry leader who has long been integral to the association. We will use his presidency to celebrate the upward mobility available to highly skilled individuals entering the aviation maintenance industry.”
The Weston Award was presented by HAECO Americas President of Airframe Services Bill Collins, who was the published “special guest” speaker for the luncheon. Collins addressed Conference attendees on the state of aviation maintenance business, weaving into his narrative a portrait of the people needed to sustain the industry’s future; that narrative inevitably pointed to Latimer’s example and concluded with the surprise presentation of the award.
“What does it mean to be a maintenance industry professional?” Collins asked in his remarks. “Well, in my mind it’s dedication to what we do. You’ve got to be smart. You’ve got to be tenacious because there’s a lot…you’ve got to put up with. Do the right things the right way – something I try to live by…[It] means that we operate with pride of workmanship, and we cause others to have pride in their work and do things the right way.”
Based on that model, Collins concluded: “I would like to welcome and propel Mr. David Latimer into the hallowed halls of the Leo Weston Award winners.” Latimer took the stage to a standing ovation of his colleagues, thanking them for support.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of the people in this room and have established some great relationships over the years,” Latimer said. “I want to thank you guys and ladies for everything you’ve brought to this industry. I’ve enjoyed it so much. I actually have a son who’s now entering the business, who has a great work ethic and understands what it is we do for a living.
“So, every morning when I say: ‘I’m off to go make aviation safe for the traveling public,’ I truly mean it.”
Latimer was unable to leave the stage before being stopped by MacLeod, who was joined by ARSA Managing Director and General Counsel Marshall S. Filler to bestow on Latimer the association’s first official “Golden Shovel” award.
MacLeod described the award as “Based on [ARSA’s] belief that the first rule of holes is when you’re in one, stop digging.” She colorfully described aviation professionals as individuals who could see past the difficulty of the work before them to connect with the higher calling of the business, highlighting the words included on the plaque bearing a golden shovel given to Latimer: “To shovel or not to shovel was always his question.”
To learn more about the 2022 ARSA Annual Conference, visit arsa.org/conference.