High-voltage, high-altitude work: video


This incredible video clip -- I don't know where it's from, or when? -- documents the everyday work of a man whose job is to maintain and repair high-voltage overhead power lines.

He is transported to those lines by flying on top of a helicopter, and he crawls around on the lines with some special gear. Without that gear, he'd fry.

He wears a fire-retardant "hot suit" made in part from metal threads, so the garment functions as a Faraday Cage.

"A half a million volts pass around my body but I can work without interference from electricity," he says in the video. "There's such a hunger for electricity these days, nobody wants to take lines out of service to maintain them."

Link (thanks D.! via Wayne's List)


Reader comment:
Scott Eric Kaufman says,

The video's from Straight Up: Helicopters in Action.

Josh Kirschenbaum says,

Your entry on BB today about the high-voltage
line worker is from an IMAX film about helicopters (Link), and a clip: Link. I saw it a few years ago at the Udvar-Hazy Center of the
National Air & Space Museum - a MUST-SEE by the way! My Udvar-Hazy photos: Link.

Ryan Rawson says,

You posted about the high voltage video. There was an episode of
"Modern Marvels" called "High Voltage" that had a full 42 minutes of
similar video. Lineworkers have used "hot" techniques to work on high
voltage lines for years, so it's fairly common to maintain and reroute
active wires. They have 2 cool technologies for handling 500k+
voltage lines. One is a highly insulated cherry picker, the other is
special helicopters seen in the video you linked. By clipping on to
the line the worker brings the helicopter up to the same voltage
potential as the line. At this point they can touch the line
barehanded. The suit they wear is electro-static shielding - it
doesn't actually protect them from 750k volts (nothing really would).
At 750k volts the electricity will arc up to about 10 feet to ground,
so the episode of modern marvels had a portion devoted to high voltage
line rescue. Not for the faint of heart.

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