Who are We?

Meet CLC

Carrier Landing Consultants, LLC offers experienced Naval Aviators and Landing Signal Officers for consulting positions that require their unique skill set.

Let us help you improve carrier aviation for the future, by providing technical and training support with tomorrow’s open technologies. Whether it’s pilot training, LSO training, carrier operations or carrier suitability, we have the experience and resources you need.

Contact CLC today to find out how we can help your project.

What’s an LSO?

There always came that exquisite moment of human judgment when one man - a man standing alone on the remotest corner of the ship, lashed by foul wind and storm - had to decide that the jet roaring down upon him could make it. This solitary man had to judge the speed and height and the pitching of the deck and the wallowing of the sea and the oddities of this particular pilot and those additional imponderables that no man can explain. Then, at the last screaming second he had to make his decision and flash it to the pilot. He had only two choices. He could land the plane and risk the life of the pilot and the plane and the ship if he had judged wrong. Or he could wave-off and delay his decision until next time around. But he could defer his job to no one. It was his, and if he did judge wrong, carnage on the carrier deck could be fearful.”

— James Michener, The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1953)


Landing Signal Officers (LSOs) are naval aviators who are trained to assist other pilots in landing on an aircraft carrier. They are charged with the safe and expeditious recovery of all carrier air wing aircraft, no matter the conditions: day or night, clear weather or stormy, steady or pitching flight deck. LSOs have been helping safely guide pilots to the deck since the earliest days of naval aviation.

LSOs watch aircraft to ensure their glideslope, airspeed, attitude and lineup are within normal parameters for a safe recovery on the carrier. Too steep and an aircraft might break when it lands. Too shallow and a jet might hit the back of the ship. Too fast and an aircraft can damage the arresting wires. Too slow and the aircraft might stall or settle. LSOs communicate to pilots with light signals and radio calls, ensuring a safe pass and a quick recovery.

While aviation technology has advanced by leaps and bounds over the past century, the role of the LSO has remained. Technology can fail and the weather at sea can be unpredictable. When the conditions become the most challenging, the need for an experienced and highly trained LSO is at its greatest. The LSO community has left a long and distinguished history, and it has a bright future ahead.


Landing Signal Officers (LSOs) have had a key role in US Naval Aviation since its earliest days. The very first LSO was reported to be a pilot who waved two sailor’s caps in the air to tell an incoming pilot it was unsafe to land.

The first executive officer of a US Navy aircraft carrier (CDR Kenneth Whiting aboard the USS Langley) watched pilots’ landings with an eye toward improving them, recording individual landings with a hand cranked motion picture camera - the ancestor of today’s in-deck PLAT cameras. Observing landings from the port aft corner of the flight deck, he would often give helpful suggestions through body language of what the pilot on approach should do to effect a safe landing. This worked so well the position was institutionalized as the “Landing Signal Officer” or LSO.

The first LSOs communicated to pilots via hand signals, amplified with large colored flags, or wands. Since these wands were roughly the same shape as large ping-pong paddles, the nick-name “paddles” has stuck with LSOs ever since. Despite the retirement of actual hand-held paddles in the early 1960s, the act of controlling an aircraft landing on an aircraft carrier is still referred to as “waving”.

Other countries had carriers and LSOs as well. The UK called theirs “batsmen”. While the United States was the first to fly an aircraft off and onto a ship (Eugene Ely, 1910 and 1911) the Royal Navy had the first functional aircraft carrier, and were responsible for many of the great advancements in mid-20th century carrier technology, including the angled deck, mirror landing aid, and armored flight decks. Today, France, Russia, Brazil and Argentina practice arrested landings aboard modern aircraft carriers. Other countries like India and the UK are building carriers with arrested landing capability as well.

Light signals and radios have replaced the hand signals of the early 20th century, but the goal of waving is the same as it was in World War II: get an aircraft safely aboard on centerline, the first time, no matter the weather or time of day.

Our Founders

Your LSO Team

Carrier Landing Consultants, LLC is managed by three founding partners, Jake “Slim” Parsons, Erik “Burns” Hess, and Rob “Weeds” Wedertz. From Fall 2008 to Summer 2010, Jake and Erik ran the operational LSO program for the entire US Navy as the CNAF and CNAL Force Landing Signal Officers. From 2009 to 2012, Rob served in the highest LSO billet in the US Navy, Officer in Charge of the LSO School.

Erik founded CLC shortly after leaving active duty in late-2010, and Jake joined him as a full partner upon leaving active duty in March 2011. In October 2012, Rob was asked to join as well.

Over their combined thirty-five years on the LSO platform, Jake, Rob and Erik have waved over 75,000 mishap-free arrested landings and coached an entire generation of naval aviators through their first day and night carrier landings. They have held nearly every LSO position in the US Navy.

Jacob “Slim” Parsons

Director of Operations

Jake has an MBA from the University of Southern California and a BS in Physics from the United States Naval Academy. After receiving his commission in May 1998, Jake reported to NAS Pensacola where he began pilot training. Earning his Wings of Gold in 2000 he was assigned to fly the F/A-18C Hornet and reported to VFA-125 at NAS Lemoore, CA.

Upon completion of fleet replacement training, Jake headed to Atsugi, Japan and the Royal Maces of VFA-27, deploying on numerous occasions including the first wave of Operation Iraqi Freedom in Spring, 2003. The Maces were attached to the conventional carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), where Jake experienced some of the major challenges confronting US Navy LSOs, foul weather, pitching deck and combat recoveries. Under the instruction of his talented CAG paddles, Jake earned his Wing Qualification in 2003.

Completing his tour in Japan, Jake reported to VFA-122 in Lemoore, CA where he transitioned to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and joined the ranks of other Instructor LSOs and pilots. It was during this three year tour where Jake taught brand-new Super Hornet pilots how to land on a carrier at sea. In this tour alone, Jake watched, instructed and evaluated over 30,000 field carrier landing practice approaches and over 10,000 arrested landings from the youngest aviators in the fleet.

After a successful Instructor LSO tour, Jake was hand picked to be the CAG LSO for Carrier Air Wing Two. After extremely successful work up periods, he undertook another deployment to the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Jake was instrumental in the instruction and qualification process of new fleet LSOs. Implementing a clear, concise and proven standardization process among his teams, his air wing maintained a mishap-free safety record throughout his tour.

Following his CAG LSO tour, Jake was selected to become the Commander Naval Air Forces (CNAF) LSO, as one of only three Force LSO jobs in the US Navy. As CNAF LSO, Jake was the overseer of Pacific Fleet LSO operations and the policy maker of the US Navy LSO community. Supervising the initial fleet qualification of hundreds of new pilots, instructing wing and training qualified LSOs, Jake planned and executed over 15 highly successful carrier detachments on every carrier in the US Navy’s fleet.

By the completion of his active duty career, Jake had waved over 25,000 mishap free carrier arrestments, qualified over a 1000 carrier aviators and more than 500 US Navy LSOs over 10 solid years of waving. He is a true leader, master manager and implementer of LSO programs with the paramount objective of safe and expeditious landings at sea.

Jake has spent his career learning and teaching the art and science of carrier aviation. As co-founder of Carrier Landing Consultants, LLC he’s ready to support your carrier-related requirements.

Robert “Weeds” Wedertz

Director of Business Development

Rob has an MBA from the Naval Postgraduate School and a BS from the United States Naval Academy. He received his commission in May of 1993 and began flight training in Pensacola, FL the following year. After earning his Wings of Gold in 1996 he was chosen to fly the FA-18C Hornet and reported to VFA-106 at NAS Cecil Field, FL.

His first assignment following Fleet Replacement Training was with the Wildcats of VFA-131. He made two deployments to the Mediterranean and the North Arabian Sea, one in 1998 onboard the USS John C. Stennis, and another in 2000 onboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. He participated in operations in Bosnia as well as Operation Southern Watch over the skies of Iraq. During this 3 year tour as a young Lieutenant, Weeds learned the “art” of waving aircraft and attained his Wing Qualification under the tutelage of extremely talented CAG LSOs.

In 2000, Rob reported to Training Squadron 7 in Meridian, MS where he was an Instructor and LSO in Advanced Jet Training. He waved students from the U.S. Navy and United States Marine Corps as well as international students from Brazil, France, Argentina, India, and Thailand. Rob oversaw the “Paddles Shop” and waved more than 25000 field carrier landing practice approaches and nearly 20000 arrested landings on 7 different aircraft carriers.

Following his Instructor tour, Rob was hand-picked (by Admiral William Gortney—the current Commander, United States Fleet Forces Command) to be the CAG LSO for Carrier Air Wing Seven. He led the Air Wing through workups and a combat deployment in support of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom onboard USS George Washington with ZERO safety incidents or mishaps. During the deployment, he also led, developed, and managed the operational evaluation of the new LSO Display System (LSODS) which has since been installed on every active U.S. Navy aircraft carrier.

Following his CAG LSO tour, Rob reported to the Blue Blasters of VFA-34 as a Department Head and consecutively led the Safety, Maintenance, and Operations Departments of the squadron during the Inter-deployment Training Cycle and a six-month deployment to the Western Pacific onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.

He then reported to NATO’s Supreme Allied Command Transformation for his joint duty tour and managed the Security of a 4-star multi-national command consisting of all NATO signatories as well as members of the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Partnership for Peace.

In 2009, Rob was asked to assume command of the U.S. Navy’s Landing Signal Officer School at Oceana, VA. As the senior LSO in the Navy, he was charged with developing and instituting operational standards and doctrines for the entire carrier fleet. Working in tandem with the CNAL and CNAP Force LSOs, Weeds managed the entire fleet LSO community and was directly responsible for the training of each and every level of LSO. He was also responsible for the training of LSOs from Brazil, France, and the United Kingdom and laid the foundation for the future training of LSOs from India.

Rob has authored operational doctrine, developed training methodologies for Air Officers in addition to LSOs, and has teamed with myriad foreign partners in developing and reconstituting carrier aviation programs. His mentorship and guidance of LSOs fleet-wide has led to the longest period of mishap-free embarked operations in the 100 year history of Naval Aviation. He has personally trained more LSOs than any other CO of the LSO School (during his three-and-a-half year tenure) and is superbly qualified to train many more.

Rob retired from active duty in September 2012, and joined CLC as partner in October. He has spent his career learning and teaching the art and science of carrier aviation and is ready to support your carrier-related requirements.

Erik “Burns” Hess

Director of Training

Erik has a BSFS in Science, Technology and International Affairs from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. He received a commission in the US Navy in 1997 via NROTC and immediately began pilot training, earning his Wings of Gold in 1999. After being selected to fly the F-14 Tomcat, Erik reported to NAS Oceana, Virginia for Fleet Replacement training.

Upon completion of training in the F-14B Tomcat he next joined the Red Rippers of VF-11, where he deployed to Afghanistan aboard USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. On deployment he learned the art and science of waving from his talented and patient CAG Landing Signal Officers. Achieving his Wing LSO Qualification in 2003, he was selected to instruct at his old Tomcat training squadron, the Grim Reapers of VF-101. While there, he trained the last breed of Tomcat pilots to land on an aircraft carrier, and received the last F-14 Training LSO Qualification ever granted.

As the Tomcat was retired, he continued to fly with VF-101 while moving to the US Navy’s Landing Signal Officer School as an instructor. He taught glideslope geometry, Aircraft Recovery Bulletins, carrier landing safety, and emergency and foul weather waving. While on staff there, Erik digitized the LSO School’s extensive mishap recording library, and helped design and implement a $2 million instructor console and graphics upgrade to the world’s only LSO Trainer. His roles included designing the custom touch-screen user interface and displays for the instructor/operator station, setting program requirements, software engineering, and troubleshooting.

In 2006, Erik was fortunate to represent the US Navy on the F-35C Lightning II requirements staff. While there, he provided a fleet perspective on pilot vehicle interface designs, particularly the unique dual-touchscreen cockpit displays which replace the traditional gauges and multifunction displays on older aircraft. He successfully operated in the ITAR-sensitive international acquisition environment, and rewrote the Joint F-35 International Training Center flight syllabus to more accurately reflect the requirements of future carrier and land-based tactical aviators in the US and abroad. At this time he transitioned to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and continued to teach new pilots in a new airplane as a guest instructor and LSO with VFA-106.

The next year, Erik was given his Staff LSO Qualification and the job all LSOs dream about - CAG LSO at Carrier Air Wing One. While serving as Staff LSO and safety officer there, Erik deployed again to the Middle East, this time to the Gulf aboard USS Enterprise (CVN 65) in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He learned a great deal about international and test waving when in 2007 and 2008 he joined French Navy and VX-23 LSOs for the first-ever arrestments of the French Rafale and Boeing EA-18G aboard a US Navy aircraft carrier. In 2008, Erik had the honor of being selected by the Tailhook Association as the recipient of the Bug Roach Golden Paddles Award.

Later that year, Erik was fortunate enough to be selected as the Force LSO for the Atlantic Fleet, one of only three Force-Level LSO jobs in the US Navy. In his role as Force LSO, Erik supervised the initial fleet qualification of hundreds of pilots, trained the next generation of fleet, training and airwing LSOs, and planned and executed over a dozen highly successful carrier qualification detachments. He evaluated three carrier/airwing teams prior to their deployment for efficiency, safety and procedural compliance.

Erik literally wrote the book on waving, as editor of the first revision to the 250-page Landing Signal Officer Reference Manual in over a decade. He was responsible for the initial evaluation of the recovery equipment aboard the US Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, the USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) and oversaw the successful integration of the EA-18G into normal fleet carrier qualifications, including qualifying the first Category I students in the Navy’s newest electronic attack aircraft.

Erik has spent his career learning and teaching the art and science of carrier aviation. As co-founder of Carrier Landing Consultants, LLC he’s ready to support your carrier related requirements. Contact him today at: erik.hess@carrierlandingconsultants.com

Our Capabilities

Pilot Training

LSO Training

Carrier Operations

Ship Suitability

Past Performance

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Operations

CLC worked directly with Physical Optics Corporation (POC) during the research and development of its gesture recognition technology for unmanned air vehicles initiative (NIGHT-AO) associated with the Office of Naval Research. CLC provided consulting services specifically focused on flight deck operations in order to assist POC to better understand operational paradigms, CONOPS, and technology feasibility. During the period of performance, CLC supported POC via the following efforts:

Landing Signal Officer Trainer

CLC, as a subcontractor to AVT Simulation, was awarded a contract by NAWC-TSD to provide Landing Signal Officer Subject Matter Expertise during the redesign and upgrade of the LSO Trainer located at the U.S. Navy LSO School at NAS Oceana, VA. Specifically, CLC will:

Carrier Visualization Innovation and Research

CLC has been awarded a subcontract by BGI-LLC as part of BGI’s Small Business Innovation and Research supporting Naval Air Systems Command. The SBIR involves the research and development of a software system which will enable users to capture aircraft carrier approach and landing performance data (both from the CVN and the aircraft) in order to improve the efficiency, safety, and efficacy of carrier operations. CLC will provide LSO subject matter expertise to the technology development team. We are scheduled to present the technology solution to the LSO Community (and carrier aviation professionals) at the annual LSO Operational Advisory Group Conference on June 25th, 2014.

SBIR Initiatives

CLC has teamed with Physical Optics Corporation in order to support Department of the Navy Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) initiatives outlined below. CLC personnel are providing Subject Matter Expertise (SME) support during the initial proposal phase with an agreement to support Phase I efforts upon award.


TITLE: Next-Generation of Maintenance Skills Training System


ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PMS-339 - Schoolhouse Training Systems

OBJECTIVE: Provide Navy maintenance trainers with initial and refresher training protocols, assessment tools, and a model of skill acquisition and decay that can be used to predict and prevent deterioration of maintenance skills and knowledge.


TITLE: Crew Role-player Enabled by Automated Technology Enhancements (CREATE)

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Air Platform, Human Systems


OBJECTIVE: Develop a software application/suite that provides a synthetic crew role player to support complex crewmember interactions during dynamic training events.

Contact CLC

We can help

If you’re interested in learning more about how CLC can help you or your program, contact us via email: paddles@carrierlandingconsultants.com

For more information, you can also download our prospectus in PDF format.