The view from this South Dakota TV Tower is as grand & dizzying as any Manhattan skyscraper


While here in New York City, the antennas we cover tend to sit atop skyscrapers like the World Trade Center, for much of the American landscape, the tallest fixtures are spindle-thin television towers that keep watch over an agrarian landscape. But the view from atop those towers can be just as beautiful as the view from a $100 million Manhattan penthouse, as this drone video proves.

A day on the job for project manager Kevin Schmidt involves scaling a 1,500 foot television tower to change a lightbulb. A vertigo-inducing video of the climb shot by Schmidt’s colleague, Todd Thorin, using a Quatrocopter drone sent pulses racing and went viral on YouTube—and for good reason: it’s stunning. Shot for Thorin’s aerial photography and videography startup, Prairie Aerial, the footage shows Schmidt’s painstaking climb, rung by rung, as the ground becomes increasingly distant and the buildings mere pinpricks.

The TV antenna in Salem, South Dakota is operated by KDLT-TV and has been inactive for some time, but a functioning light bulb is necessary to warn pilots to circumvent the sky-high mast. An employee of Sioux Falls Tower and Communications, the climber with nerves of steel has been screwing in light bulbs at dizzying heights for eight years on outposts in dozens of states through rain, shine, sleet, and snow. Even at wind speeds of 60mph, it’s business as usual. “Some of my friends can’t believe I do it,” Schmidt told USA Today. “They get scared on top of their house.”

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