Michael Johnson (MJ) is not afraid of heights, and that’s probably a good thing given that he’s spent the
majority of his adult life scaling tall structures.
MJ has been working in wind energy for more than 15 years, 12 of which have been spent at Airway Services. Before AWS, MJ worked for a telecommunications business on cellphone towers that eventually expanded to include a wind division.
“The company I worked for took a bunch of guys from Wisconsin who were young and dumb enough to work on cellphone towers, and stack guide towers with cable winches and a gin pole. We had barely seen a wind turbine before and they sent us down to Guyman, Oklahoma,” MJ laughed. “Our job was to drop rotors and swap out blades on the ground. We’d never worked on wind turbines before, let alone had any clue how to. There was definitely a learning curve. It took us 16hrs to drop our first rotor. By the end of that project we were dropping a rotor, swapping out all 3 blades, and flying the rotor in a day. That was a good start to my career, because we learned exactly what not do and why.”
It was the definition of ‘learning on the job,’ and that’s exactly what MJ did. Eventually, though, it paid off.
“I have built eight different manufacturers of towers and then 15 different models within those eight different manufacturers,” MJ revealed. “Building them as a top out crew in construction, working as a lead flagger all the way to a foreman. I’ve also done a bunch of large corrective work, large corrective lead (which is basically their foreman), gear boxes, generators, main bearings, rotor drops, and single blade swap outs for all four of the major wind industry OEM’S.”
In short, he’s done a lot.
For the last three years, he’s been a TFA (Technical Field Advisor) and Lead TFA at his current project in
California, he’s somewhat of a one-man-show. “At this project in California, it’s only one tower,” MJ said. “I’m the Site Manager, the Lead TFA, the TFA, the stockkeeper, and the Safety guy’s not on site all the time, so I fill that role when he’s gone too.”
MJ makes it easy to place him within the construction realm due to his vast knowledge and experience. The
OEM’s have recognized him for several safety achievements and continue to entrust him to lead large
complex issues for the AWS team without their leadership on site.
“Heights don’t really scare me.” MJ said “The highest I’ve climbed is 1,420 feet to paint a broadcast tower. If you have trust in yourself, you have trust in your equipment and the people you work with, then you will be able to accomplish anything.”
Every time MJ climbs a tower, he takes his life into his own hands. But that’s nothing new for him.
MJ is not afraid to make decisions, work hard, tackle challenging scopes of work, and have fun while working with his teammates. And he’s certainly not afraid to reach for new heights.