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The Leo Weston Award for Excellence in Service to Aviation Safety

First bestowed in 2005 on Leo Weston, an influential figure in ARSA’s birth, the Weston award honors individuals who embody his commitment to the industry.

As an FAA official, Weston advocated for the creation of an organization to represent the interests of maintenance providers. Since then – across a long career of professional and personal dedication to public good – he has been a great inspiration for the association and its members. In his honor, ARSA regularly recognizes individuals who have made a lasting impact in furthering the principles of good government.

Helping with Healing: ARSA Honors Scovel

Past Recipients

Calvin Scovel, III (2020) 

Howard Whyte & Werner Luehmann (2019)

Jennifer Weinbrecht (2018)

Peggy Gilligan (2017)

Crystal Maguire (2016)

Neil Eisner (2014)

Ron Utecht (2013)

Carol Giles (2012)

Tony Janco (2011)

Julian Hall (2010)

David Cann (2008)

Al Micheals (2006)

Leo Weston (2005)

The Weston Award is celebrated as part of ARSA’s Annual Conference held in and around Washington, D.C. each March. The conference provides a venue for association members and invited guests from around the world to network and discuss issues that matter to the aviation maintenance industry. It is the perfect time to respect the history of the repair station community and honor the good works of those who support it.

For more information about the award, past recipients or ARSA’s work on behalf of the global aviation community, contact the association.

ARSA Remembers – Leo Weston

Weston and his wife Bernadette in 2017.

On Nov. 28, 2020, Leo Weston, whose passion for aviation began in high school, spanned the world and lasted until his final days, passed away at home in the presence of his wife, Bernadette.

Immediately after graduating from Philadelphia’s North Catholic High School, where he learned basic aviation and engineering working on the school’s “fleet” of Piper J-3 Cubs, Weston enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. He was a mechanic and crew chief through an initial four-year enlistment as well as a recall tour in Korea.

After discharging from active duty in 1952, Weston attended Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, Oklahoma earning his Mechanic’s certificate with airframe and powerplant ratings. His civil aviation career began with Atlantic Aviation in Philadelphia before becoming a flight engineer for Pan American.

After enduring multiple furloughs, Weston began his federal civilian service with the FAA in 1964. He served in several training and management roles before transferring to the agency’s Headquarters in Washington, D.C. in 1974. His tirelessly support of the repair station community across four decades concluded with yeoman’s efforts on international harmonization before his retirement in the early 2000s.

“His dedication was matched with exceptional insight,” ARSA Executive Director Sarah MacLeod pronounced, remembering the incentive he provided in the formation of the association. “Not only did he set the foundation for the eventual international recognition of repair stations by spawning the ‘joint airworthiness regulations,’ but he also actively encouraged ARSA to become the repository of knowledge on the history, intent and plain language of aviation safety requirements. While Leo always had an opinion, it never outweighed an applicant, certificate holder, or female lawyer’s approach to showing compliance. He was as willing to learn as he was to educate; he embodied the ‘critical thinking’ sought, but so rarely found in government or industry.”

To honor Weston’s central role in the association’s formation and to recognize dedication to the public served by the international aviation maintenance community and national aviation authorities, in 2005 ARSA established the “Leo Weston Award for Excellence in Service to Aviation Safety.” The award commends individuals who embody his commitment to the industry and good government.

After his retirement Weston became a volunteer docent at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. Giving countless tours to visitors, student groups and fellow aviation enthusiasts, ensures Weston’s impact will continue well beyond any recognition bestowed publicly.

“[Leo] was the actual ‘Leo Weston Award’ for the docents at the Udvar-Hazy Center,” said fellow volunteer Joe Thomas. “When he was 90, he was giving tours to ten-year olds…[who] will have the memory of that tour for possibly 80 more years. Between Leo’s life and the students’ lives we have a period of maybe 180 years, bringing life to the phrase ‘I touch the future: I teach’. We continue to be inspired by him.”

For more information about arrangements and remembrances, click here.

Leo in his “native habitat,” in front of a Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radial engine installed in a P-47 Thunderbolt. The “Dependable Engines” logo is clearly visible. In the background is a Curtiss-Wright R-3350 on the Enola Gay. The engines in the museum are quiet, but Leo brought them to life. Photo courtesy Joe Thomas.