Where are you from Originally? Because you sound kind of American?
I am from New Zealand.
Wow, that is so far!
Haha I know! Its literally as far as you can go
So basically, you were always interested in water?
Yes. So, I am very passionate about water and the environment because they like go hand in hand. I have a passion for the water environment and being outdoors, so when I went to study after school, I did a diploma in environment management just in my hometown. At the same time, I was also doing my swimming training, so I could travel with that.
So I did a diploma, which was really hands-on and practical, and we did our PADI diving qualifications, and then we did boat trips and surveys, which was really fun. So I did the diploma for two years, and in my third year, I was supposed to go to the university to get my degree in marine biology. Then covid happened, so I moved back home because I had moved away for the degree and had just about started. So I moved back home, and that’s when I decided to be a commercial diver and do diving for work.
Would you say your background growing up in New Zealand spurred your interest in water and the environment?
Definitely, because where I lived in New Zealand, we had stunning beaches, water holes, and waterfalls. It just makes you appreciate nature and what you have because you don’t want to do anything that would impede it.
So how did you go from diving to where you are now?
So first of all, I did all my PADI and my scuba diving tickets when I did my diploma. Then, when I was ready to do diving for work, I got all my commercial diving tickets which is when you mainly specialize in construction diving, so I worked for a Commercial Diving
company. It was kind of like engineering work underwater. I really enjoyed that, but I just got over it after a while.
So how did you go from diving to climbing?
So when I was studying, I never really wanted to come to the UK. The urge to go to the Uk happened in the last three months of my life. I wanted to move to the UK to work at the festivals because I had never been to the UK, and I had a friend who had just moved here, and she told me I could move to the UK and get paid to work at the festival. So that was what kind of like sparked my interest in moving to the UK.
Then a guy I had worked with back in my commercial diving days who used to do rope access in the UK recommended working on wind turbines in the wind farms. So he said I could get my rope access tickets, my GWOs, and two other tickets, and I’d get hired to work on turbine blades as a blade repair technician because there were a lot of projects and money in the renewable sector. So that’s how I pretty much booked all my courses haha.
So what steps did you take when you decided to be a blade repair technician?
So I contacted Altitec. I can’t remember how I came across them, but I just saw that they offer a couple of the courses I needed. I actually saw that they offered a couple in Australia, so I was going to take some of the courses there and complete the rest I needed in the UK and then work in the UK. So I asked them if they had a complete program going so I could pay for all the courses at once, so I booked it in, and as soon as the dates were sorted, I booked my flights for two weeks and then moved out.
What was your experience like with the Altitec Academy?
I did the package training for about one week, which was really hard because I had to learn all the rope access techniques. Pass, knots, double deviation, etc., and then we did the blade repair course for two weeks. That was really fun. I enjoyed that. And then we had the GWO courses, which is like your working at heights, sea survival, basic safety, and all that, then we did the advanced rescue, and that’s it! You are qualified.
How was your first experience climbing those blades because they are so massive?
Honestly, I was more scared when I was up at 6 meters during the training. I was like, this could not honestly be 6 meters, and they were like, “yes, this is 6 meters haha”. But my first time on the turbine was really good. I was with Alex, who pretty much walked me through it, and I felt pretty safe, so I really enjoyed it.
How long have you been working with Altitec now?
So I started as an intern in their internship program and finished the internship after a month and a half. So I have been working for Altitec for about two months. My first full paycheck is next week, so I am so excited.
So how often do you climb now? What’s a day like for Isobel petit as a blade repair technician?
So at the moment, now we are doing lots of blading entropies. We are pretty much on the blades every single day. But at the moment there is a big lamination that needs repairing
When you’re on the blade, how long are you on it for?
I think you can be up on the blades for up to 4 hours, but it depends on what you’re working on at that time. Sometimes you could be there for 4 hours, other times you could be there for 1 hour.
Do you have any location where you would like to work? Cos blade repair techs travel a lot.
I really want to work in Europe. I came to the UK because I wanted to be closer to Europe to travel, so doing the blade repair work is decent money, and then you can travel during your off-shift periods, but how great is it that you can also travel with your job? So I really want to go to France and Spain. I am going to Croatia next week, and hopefully, the week after, I am going to Paris for work, but I am not 100 percent sure.
So last question, what advice would you have for anyone passionate about wind energy and who wants to start or change careers to this sector?
I think just do it, book the course, and do it. You would love it. It is such a cool job. You won’t be happier. And if you are scared of heights, don’t look down haha. YOLO