Flying High

 

Konnight enjoys the view from his ‘office’

by BRYAN ZOLLMAN

STAFF WRITER

 

Most people who look for a job want an office with a view. But it would be hard to beat the view David Konnight has from his office every day.

When Konnight started his current job, one of the first questions his supervisor asked him was if he was afraid of heights.

Knowing he would be climbing cell phone towers as high as 500 feet in the air, he replied, “I guess I’m about to find out.”

Konnight, 24, works on cell phone towers throughout the state, installing upgrades for cell phone companies. The company he works for is Structural Tower Service out of Becker. Towers range from 100 to 500 feet and average about 300 feet. That’s about as high as a 20-story building.

“At first I was a little scared, but I knew the job had to get done,” said Konnight, a 2007 Sauk Centre High School graduate. “Once I got up there I just tried not to think about how high I was.”

Konnight became intrigued about the job after talking to his friend, Casey Illies. Illies was staying at Konnight’s house in St. Cloud and was doing the upgrades on the tall towers. A self-professed adrenaline junkie, Konnight said to Illies, “I want to do that.”

He applied the next day and had the job within a week. Illies, meanwhile, is currently serving overseas with his brother, Bret, as members of the military.

“I love adrenaline, whether it is playing hockey, getting tattoos or driving fast,” said Konnight. 

In order to ensure safety, Konnight and his fellow climbers have three hooks on their harness belts. There are ladders on most towers or pegs like the ones seen on old telephone poles.

“There is a safety climb that goes from top to bottom that we hook up to when we climb,” he said. “If you have one hooked up that means you are 100 percent tied off.”

The highest he has climbed has been 500 feet, but he hopes to one day climb a 1,200-foot tower, equal to an 80-story building. To compare, the Empire State Building is 1,454 feet and 102 stories high.

Konnight said they climb towers when it’s cold, hot or windy outside. 

“It can be minus 20 or 105 degrees,” he said. “The only time we don’t climb is when it’s lightning.”

One of the challenges of his job is making sure he doesn’t drop anything.

“You never realize how clumsy you are until you are handing off a wrench and dropping it 400 feet,” he said.

The best part of his job is the view.

“My favorite part is being able to travel and see everything from high up,” he said. “A few weeks ago we were in Duluth and it is a beautiful sight up there.”

Despite his love for his job, he doesn’t plan on climbing cell towers forever. He has a serious girlfriend and if they start a family he wants to be home on nights and weekends, something his current job doesn’t allow. 

Until then, he will keep on climbing as high as he can go.

“I can’t wait to climb one of those 1,200-foot towers,” he said. “I love the traveling and the view and the thrill of it all is awesome. I just love my job.”

 

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