OPEN MIKE On top of the world with a North Texas crane operator

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by MIKE CASTELLUCCI

WFAA

Posted on May 5, 2014 at 5:13 PM

The cranes can be spotted flying all over Dallas, usually breaking the calm of an early morning with their call.

"Take it a little out right," a man says through the crackle of a walkie talkie. "A little bump right.”

It's the chirp of the tower crane.

Not too long ago, they may have been considered an endangered species in a bad economy. They're not hard to find now. Two of them have nested above Central Expressway.

Travis Williams, the superintendent of Manhattan Construction, said the crane hangs 271 feet in the air to the hook.

And every morning, Williams heads up to his office on a 271-foot ladder. It's not exactly a desk job, but the cranes need crane operators.

Williams said the wind gets blowing pretty heavy up here. He takes his commute one step at a time, and literally climbs through different weather. He said the higher we go, the windier it gets.

He leaves behind the shelter of the building and continues his ascent, like a trapeze artist without the trapeze.

“We’re just below the turntable of the tower crane, 270 feet above the ground,” he tells me.

And finally above it all. He says we’ve got a nice view of Dallas from his corner office.

Williams' crane, and the other giants around town, pick up entire truckloads of concrete and heavy beams like tinker toys and place them just right.

From the ground, the cranes move and swing their arms without much notice... but like a bird watcher, it pays off, if you have the time.

The office has all the comforts of home... Well, almost all.

"Restroom?" I ask.

"Gatorade bottles and a backpack!" he said.

Williams is part of an elite group. One person must climb up into the crane in the morning and back down at night with no elevator.

And as they reach for the heavens, now when you look up, you know there's someone up there.

E-mail mcastellucci@wfaa.com

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