Back in 2012, I posted a video of the PBS
"Frontline" show (Cell Tower Deaths) that highlighted
the dangers cell tower climber technicians face while working for very low wages.
Other news stories since then have reported on new regulations from OSHA and other
agencies that have helped make the safety issue better, but I haven't seen anything
on whether the pay has gotten any better.
There are lots of videos and photos online of tower climbers all over the world,
but this one showing tower climber Kevin Schmidt making the ascension to the very
top of the now inactive KDLT TV analog broadcast
antenna near Salem, SD, is unique in that the recording was made from a drone platform.
It has more than 12 million views (posted in 2014).
Capturing this kind of video requires a drone with a wireless live feed so the
pilot (Joseph Thorin, of
PrairieAerial) can see exactly what is being recorded. The concept is called
"First-Person View" (FPV) and is nowadays a very common feature on drones costing
less than $200. The
Administration (FAA) has enacted some rather draconian legislation regarding
operation of radio controlled (R/C) aircraft in the past few years, brought on primarily
by unscrupulous and/or irresponsible (aka idiotic) behavior by a relatively small
number of users. This is often the case. Anyone producing a video such as this one
needs to possess a commercial drone license (Remote
Piloting Certificate, $150, recurring every 2 years), which requires passing
a written test - but not a piloting proficiency test.
Posted May 17, 2019
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