No two days are the same for Johnny Jensen. One day he is all alone, collecting gravel; the next he is surrounded by people, receiving an award for being World Champion in crane driving.
That is the best thing about his job, he says – the constant variety: meeting customers, being able to work with big machines, seeing new sites, towns, streets. And not least – being out in the open air.
The first ever World Crane Championship (WCC) was held in Birmingham, UK in April 2015. Competitors from 12 countries participated. Although Johnny Jensen dropped one of his shoes (actually a slipper!) in the final, he clobbered the competition. He succeeded in manoeuvring around the obstacle course in a winning time of just 2 minutes and 18 seconds, at the controls of a HIAB X-HiPro 192.
“I had a feeling I would win,” he says when we meet him in a gravel pit, with its moonscape-like scenery, some 50 kilometres north of Copenhagen. “The only hard thing was avoiding pulling down the beams. It was a great experience, and loads of fun. I would really like to win again.”
Today he is working all by himself, collecting stones for a construction site a few kilometres away. For this, he has his large, almost azure-blue three-year-old Scania R560 Triple Bogie, as his companion. Perhaps the airbrushed Betty Boo gives him an extra push, looking down from the cabin. The stones Johnny Jensen gathers with his HIAB 244 HiPro on top, are sofa sized – nothing like the small objects he was dealing with during the competition.
So how do you get to be as good as Johnny? Is the secret lots of training, or experience, or something else?
None of the above, he says.
“You have got to have it in you. Of course a lot of training can make you a better crane driver, but I think it comes from inside.”
Johnny has been driving cranes for a remarkable 22 years – or since he was just 20 years of age. “I was so fond of driving trucks – that’s why I got in to this,” he says. “There is really no other explanation. The truck and crane-driving skills do not run in the family. I am the only one.”
Johnny met his wife at a motor show for old American cars in Denmark. “That is what got us together – our common interest in cars,” he says. Today they live together with their two-year-old son in a house in the small town of Gilleleje, located on the northern coast of the Danish island of Själland.
The next WCC will be held at the IAA Commercial Vehicles Show in Hannover in September. It is Johnny’s greatest ambition to win again. But this time he will not wear slippers, he says with a laugh. “I will have real shoes – I won’t be taking any risks this time.”
The article originally appeared on Hiability magazine #1.2016