This is the remarkable story of the courageous men who maintain
and repair live high-voltage power lines from helicopters. They are an
elite team of pilot and lineman who are called in to look for damage and
make critical repairs... without ever turning the power off.
aren't supposed to fly near power lines and men aren't supposed to
touch live wires... but these guys do it all day long. The process is
called "barehanding" and involves a helicopter flying up to live power
lines (in this case, 345,000-volt wires). Out from the helicopter and to
the power line stretches a metal wand, energizing the helicopter and
the lineman to the full strength of the line. The lineman, wearing a
special metal fiber suit, then works on the wire - sometimes sitting on
the helicopter skid, other times climbing onto the bare line. This
technique makes the lineman, the chopper and the pilot all part of one
electrical circuit... that means 345,000 volts run through both men and
Live line maintenance is fast, efficient and... very
dangerous. For two days The History Channel® followed the brave members
of USA Airmobile minute-by-minute, as they risked their lives to inspect
and repair critical 345,000-volt power lines in Wisconsin that had been
struck by a tornado.
The show also traces the development of this high-risk work invented by USA Airmobile's Mike Kurtgis in 1979.