David Shotsberger, a well-respected aviation industry leader, died on Jan. 22.
Shotsberger joined Continental Airlines in 1984 as an A&P mechanic and was recognized for his technical and innate leadership skills. This led him to move from Los Angeles to Orlando in 1994 to become Continental’s director of maintenance for the Southeast region. The airline promoted him to managing director of the region in 2000.
Shotsberger was influential in establishing the Orlando technical operation and growing it from line maintenance to include modifications as well.
He also was instrumental in getting the airline stations to work together, says Mark Moran, who held various executive roles at Continental, including senior VP technical operations and purchasing, as well as COO. “He reached out to other divisions, including sales, marketing, catering and the inflight group” to improve the operation, which was rare at big airlines, Moran adds.
“Dave excelled at everything he did,” and “always looked forward to see how we could do better,” with an emphasis on doing things the right way, says Moran, who is now an independent advisor. “He was knowledgeable, upbeat and always had a can-do attitude,” says Moran. “He treated everyone with dignity,” and encouraged people to thrive. “He was a heck of a leader."
Shotsberger was the quintessential people person. He was known for training people and encouraging them to perform at their best. “He was most comfortable working side-by-side with his maintenance team, providing the encouragement and support they needed to be as successful as they are today,” says Don Wright, United Airlines’ VP maintenance operations.
“Dave was a very skilled and natural leader, and one who always led by example. In doing so, he gained the respect of all the Tech Ops employees he worked with. He was very thoughtful and possessed an acute ability to always make the right decisions for United and for his teams.”
Joe Pergola, who worked with Shotsberger for 30 years and is United’s senior supervisor for Atlanta maintenance, says “Dave was a great guy who treated everyone with real dignity and respect, and made everyone feel important. He was the person people would love to go to when they needed meaningful solutions. He had a knack for being a leader who had the innate gift of putting a person at ease and making them feel important. ‘Isn’t that the way it is supposed to be?’ Dave would say. There was never a question that the right thing would be done.”
In November 2018, United Airlines dedicated its Orlando technical operation to Shotsberger. The plaque outside the David B. Shotsberger Hangar Facility states,” Dedicated to the leader whose vision established this maintenance operation which continues to grow and benefit our customers, employees and this community.”
Shotsberger excelled at aviation maintenance and airline maintenance, but “Dave (also) loved racing sprint cars, drag racing, maintaining and flying his own airplane and riding his many motorcycles, but his wife Linda and their family held the highest place in his heart,” says Wright. “We miss Dave and many of us were inspired by his courageous and hard-fought battle against ALS.”
Even when battling ALS, Shotsberger remained unflappable, encouraged others and embraced the carpe diem spirit the best he could.
He made the world a better place.