Ferrying linemen & equipment, PG&E helo creates minor Burney buzz

A PG&E aviation crew created a minor buzz in the Burney and Johnson Park area this afternoon, as area residents excitedly watched, filmed, and photographed, a PG&E helicopter make dozens of passes between the two small, Intermountain communities today, Sunday, Mar. 10.

Photographs and videos taken by area residents and shared with SCNS showed the aviation crew ferrying hoisted and line-slung linemen, parts, and equipment, from one tower to another as they conducted their dangerous work.

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PG&E, along with contracted crews such as Oregon’s International Line Builders and others, have spent the last week working on power lines in the Johnson Park area, with much of their focus on lines and towers in the unincorporated area of 2nd and Robin streets.

Today’s bit of excitement began around 1:30 p.m., when a helicopter first arrived in the area; flying in low and buzzing the tree tops. The aviation crew circled the area a few times before flying in for a low hover above the intersection of 2nd and Robin. The chopper was filmed by an area resident hovering below the tree line, barely 30-40 feet above the ground, as the crew visually inspected the recently repaired and worked on power lines in the area.

A PG&E Chopper hovers below the tree line, while an aviation crew visually inspects recent work on area power lines. Robin Montgomery photo

After flying back toward Burney, the chopper then began ferrying linemen, tools, parts, and equipment; making about three to four dozen passes between the two towns over the next several hours.

Curious about the low-flying helicopter and activity, area residents began taking photographs and videos showing linemen being hoisted – as many as two at a time – from one tower to another, as the crews continued their Sunday afternoon work.

According to PG&E spokesperson and recruiter Kristina Miller, the company’s linemen are responsible for building, maintaining, and repairing, electric power systems and for restoring electric service to commercial, industrial, agricultural, and residential customers.

They are often called upon to undertake the dangerous job of being hoisted and airlifted between high-voltage towers in remote and rural areas, that are sometimes too difficult to access with ground vehicles.

“It is a mobile work force that may travel throughout PG&E’s service territory to perform its work,” Miller explained of the company’s linemen.

Hearing all the commotion from the helicopter’s repeated trips to and from the area, several residents and families drove to the area where the linemen were working and excitedly filmed the worker’s progress.

After the linemen completed their work and were being hoisted from the area, several of the workers waved at the excited youth that had come to the area to watch the work being done. Even the aviation crew “said goodbye” to the small crowd below, dipping the nose of their low-hovering chopper and waving from the cockpit as they made one of their last precision hoists from the area.

Two PG&E linemen are hoisted from the top of a tower where they had been replacing equipment and working on the power lines. Joy Ford photo

“They are right up there with only the brave!” JP resident and Burney Elementary second grade teacher Joy Ford later told SCNS. Her family was one of several that drove or walked to the area of the tower being worked on to get a better and closer look at all the activity.

Joy’s son Bryce also excitedly talked about and shared details about the work he watched the lineman performing, telling SCNS, “That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen! Those guys were so high! And then after they got picked up, they were flying through the air so fast!”

“I can’t believe how dangerous the work is that those guys perform,” Joy continued. “I have a new respect for the difficult and dangerous jobs they perform, and I really hope they get hazard pay!”

“But I have to admit, that was pretty incredible and fun to watch, especially on an otherwise boring Sunday afternoon” Joy enthused.

Click any image to open full-size gallery.

Robin Montgomery video
Joy Ford video
Joy Ford video
Joy Ford video
Joy Ford video
Joy Ford video
Joy Ford video


Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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