Hennings closes out 35-year career

Hennings closes out 35-year careerElsa Hennings is honored during a flag raising ceremony at China Lake — U.S. Navy photo by Ron Rodriguez



NAWCWD Public Affairs

Elsa Hennings, well-known parachute expert, was honored for more than 35 years of service at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division during a flag raising ceremony Jan. 9 at China Lake.

“I can’t say enough great things about Elsa; she’s just done so much,” one colleague stated. “She’ll be greatly missed,” said another.

Henning’s roots within the NAWCWD community run deep. An opportunity to work in the field of parachutes brought her to China Lake, but it was support from those around her and a commitment to saving lives that influenced her to stay.

She served as the command’s senior systems engineer in the Escape, Parachute and Crash-

worthy Division leading up to retirement.

Throughout Hennings’ career, she served on a team that designed and tested an emergency bailout parachute system. Her knowledge and expertise have been relied on for NASA’s Mars Pathfinder, two Mars Exploration Rover spacecraft and the Orion parachute. These are just some of her notable accomplishments.

She was the first female and Navy employee to receive the Theodor W. Knacke Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Award, which recognizes significant contributions to the advancement of aeronautical or aerospace systems. She is also a Naval Air Systems Command Esteemed Fellow, representing the top .25 percent of NAVAIR scientists and engineers.

“Elsa has been a great mentor to me, providing many opportunities to challenge myself and work outside my comfort zone,” said Mike Peterson, a long-time colleague.

“I have been honored to know her and am privileged to call her my mentor and friend. I look forward to continuing her legacy of innovation, technical expertise and inspiration.”

To close out her flag-raising ceremony, Hennings acknowledged and thanked those in attendance who helped shape her journey and career.

“This has been the most fantastic career I could imagine,” she said. “You guys have made this second to none. I can’t think of anything more rewarding that I could do for my country than what I did, and it wouldn’t have happened without your support. I think we are one heck of a team, and I look forward to hearing great things about you guys in the future.”

Story First Published: 2019-01-25