High-wire daredevil Nik Wallenda scales new Orlando Eye

Wed Apr 29, 2015 10:21am EDT
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By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO (Reuters) - High-wire performer Nik Wallenda completed another death-defying stunt pacing untethered atop the 400-foot-high (122m) Orlando Eye on Wednesday morning, inaugurating a new observation Ferris wheel as it slowly spun toward him.

The record-setting aerial walk, aired live on NBC's "Today" program, was his first public walk without the use of a balancing pole.

Wallenda braved rain and storm clouds nearby, making the short walk with arms outstretched in just a few minutes without incident at the attraction, owned by Merlin Entertainments Plc.

While the walk appeared not as dangerous as others he has performed, "when you're up there, ain't nothing easy," said Wallenda, who comes from seven generations of aerial acrobats. "The danger is always the same. If I fall I lose my life."

Wallenda, who has recently went across cables spanning the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls and two Chicago skyscrapers, said he practiced walking a wire in slippery conditions without a pole in his bid to achieve another Guinness world record.

He boarded the attraction just like any other passenger on one of the rotating glass cabins. Once at the top, he climbed onto the roof of the capsule and then went down an emergency ladder before beginning the walk along a 6-inch-wide (15cm) moving wheel rim spinning toward him at the rate of 1 mile per hour (1.6 km per hour).

Wallenda was not able to pause or slow down and had to climb around steel structural pieces on and between the capsules that he passed.

Asked why he continues to risk his life with new stunts, he said it was a matter of family legacy, noting that 15 family members currently walk the wire.   Continued...

Aerialist Nik Wallenda listens to question about the plans for his next feat at the Orlando Eye during a press conference in New York April 13, 2015. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton