The latest in a long line of TV programs about people with jobs that are dirty, dangerous or both, "Turbine Cowboys" is the first installament in a new Weather Channel anthology series called "Braving the Elements," which made its debut April 17 but will repeat April 20 at 8 p.m. and April 22 at 8 and 11 p.m. It follows two teams of workers who erect, repair and maintain giant wind turbines under difficult, even deadly circumstances. "We're trying to help strengthen America by creating something renewable," says Manny Williams, who faces hazardous weather like gusty winds, ice, rain, hail and thunder in the course of his job.
"We were working on a turbine in Wyoming, negative 10‑degree weather. You have to carry extra gloves, because you take off your gloves to take pictures of defects and things. And at that temperature, you can develop frostbite rather quickly. If you were to drop a glove, you can pretty much guarantee you're going to lose that hand by the time they're able to get to you," relates Williams, who had to rescue a new worker in trouble who promptly quit the next day. "It takes a certain mindset of people to do the kind of job that we do. I like the adventure, the thrill."
Football player-turned-turbine cowboy Robin Ham, 52, is still climbing turbines several hundred feet in the air, sometimes multiple times a day. What motivates him? "We know down the road that it's going to help America, and I think that's a good reason."