Friday, July 8, 2011

Wire-walking Wallendas

Nik Wallenda, the 7th generation of the famous Flying Wallendas, is making a lot of news lately. The Wallenda family, aerialists known for working without nets, have had their share of tragedy. In 1962, 2 members of the family - Richard Faughnan and Dieter Schepp - fell 70' to their deaths while attempting a 7-man pyramid in Detroit. In 1963, Rietta Wallenda to her death in Omaha while performing on the sway pole. In 1972, another relative, Richard "Chico" Guzman, was killed when he touched a live wire while on the metal rigging. And in 1978, patriarch Karl Wallenda, Nik's great-grandfather, fell to his death while performing (video here, difficult to watch but not gory). Last month, Nik and his mother Delilah Wallenda successfully completed the walk of a 300' long wire suspended 100' in the air between 2 towers of a seaside hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico - the same stunt that killed Karl. Said Nik, "I've been mentally prepared my entire life for this. I've seen the video of my great-grandfather falling hundreds of times. It's something I've been wanting to do for all of us, for our family. It was to show the world that the Wallendas are still here, we're still going strong." Exactly one year ago, Nik set a Guinness world record in Newark for riding a bicycle across a 235' wire suspended 135' in the air between 2 cranes. He is now poised to walk a tightrope across Niagara Falls, a stunt 1st performed by Jean François Gravelet (1824-1897), better known as Blondin. New York State Assemblyman John Ceretto is co-sponsor of a bill to allow Nik to cross above Horseshoe Falls. He says, "I understand that people are concerned about 'carnivalising' of the Falls and bringing it back to the days of daredevils going over the Falls in barrels. Fortunately, more and more people are beginning to realize and appreciate the value of this exciting tourism opportunity. This is not a stunt. This is a professional, world-class performance that the world will be watching." The high wire will be just under 2,500' across and 200' above the water. Nik estimates it will take him about 45 minutes to cross it. Less difficult will be his permitted walk across the Grand Canyon...

1st image: Nik Wallenda bicycles across a wire 12 stories above the street in Newark, N.J., in 2010; 2nd image: Karl Wallenda performing above Phillies Veterans Stadium in 1972.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You may add your comments here.