An aircraft carrier's flight deck has been called the second most dangerous place on earth to work, and rightly so. As many as 60 aircraft and 200 men are crammed onto little more than four acres of hardened steel armor plate at constant noise levels that can be felt in a sailor’s teeth and ribs. Searing jet exhaust can cook or blow them overboard. At times the air is so hot that they can't breathe. Jet intakes can pull a someone off their feet and devour them. An unwary sailor can fall prey to a spinning propeller's razor-sharp, invisible arc or a whipping, severed arresting gear cable. On the flight deck men move in many different directions in what appears to the uninitiated observer to be chaotic.
Yet nothing is as organized as the flight deck of a U.S. Navy carrier. It's like an orchestra, with each section devoted to performing a part of the overall symphony of carrier operations.
Robert Parsons will draw from his experience of 20 years in naval aviation to share how rules, roles, and expectations connect with craftsman, supervisors, and managers in dynamic and challenging environments. His presentation will be on Wednesday, Oct. 11 at the International Lineman's Rodeo Safety Conference. Parsons will share his people experiences and observations in these challenging environments and others, tying them to our everyday actions that affect every one of us in leadership, safety, teamwork, and trust. His presentation will be sure to grab your attention early and keep you engaged throughout.
Parsons is now the Electrical and I&C Manager for Westar’s Jeffrey Energy Center, a nearly 2.2 Gigawatt coal-fired power plant in north central Kansas. He joined Westar as an apprentice in 2009 and has served in multiple roles – both craft and management – in his career at Westar.
He is a retired US Navy Chief Petty Officer who worked in numerous facets in the fast-paced and highly demanding F/A-18 Hornet and Super-Hornet aircraft maintenance field. Parsons served multiple wartime and peacekeeping tours in the Arabian Gulf, Adriatic Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea from 1988 - 2008 on the flight decks of multiple aircraft carriers, which are some of the most dangerous places in the world to work. He also held positions in Aircraft Maintenance and Quality Assurance & Safety, representing US Naval Aviation during his tour with the Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron, The Blue Angels.
His passion for safety stems from his craft roots in Aircrew Safety & Environmental Control Systems. During his time maintaining ejection seats, three catastrophic aircraft events resulted in the pilots ejecting safely, returning to their friends and family, and ultimately being cleared once again for flight duty. He firmly attributes these successes to attention to detail, precise communication, and teamwork.