The nation is fascinated by those who risk their lives to entertain others.
This week two dangerous events reveal the risk and rewards in attempting death-defying feats.
Aerialist Nik Wallenda completed a tightrope walk that took him a quarter mile over the Little Colorado River Gorge in northeastern Arizona on Sunday.
Wallenda performed the stunt on a 2-inch-thick steel cable, 1,500 feet above the river on the Navajo Nation near the Grand Canyon. He took just more than 22 minutes, pausing and crouching twice as winds whipped around him and the rope swayed.
Wallenda didn’t wear a harness and stepped slowly and steady throughout, murmuring prayers to Jesus almost constantly along the way. He jogged and hopped the last few steps.
The 34-year-old Sarasota, Fla., resident is a seventh-generation high-wire artist and is part of the famous “Flying Wallendas” circus family — a clan that is no stranger to death-defying feats.
His great-grandfather, Karl Wallenda, fell during a performance in Puerto Rico and died at the age of 73. Several other family members, including a cousin and an uncle, have perished while performing wire walking stunts.
His wife and children watched him make the historic walk across the canyon
Another public event didn’t have a happy ending.
An aerobatic pilot and a wing walker died Saturday in a fiery crash near Dayton, Ohio. Neither wing walker Jane Wicker, who had a pilot’s license, nor pilot Charlie Schwenker had accidents in the past or were disciplined for any reason, the FAA records showed, according to agency spokesman Roland Herwig.
Wicker, 44, was the mother of two teenage sons and was engaged to be married next year atop an airplane. Schwenker, 64, was about to celebrate his nine-year wedding anniversary, which is Tuesday.
When you think about the risk of losing your life and leaving your family behind, it’s hard to imagine why people perform the types of stunts that happened this weekend.
The personal drive to set new records and goals is a powerful force. Unfortunately some of the activities aren’t always successful and the participants end up paying the ultimate price.