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Sunday 18 February 2018

Man on wire: Dad-of-three walks into history 200 feet above Niagara Falls

OUT FOR A STROLL: Nik Wallenda, of famous acrobatic family The Flying Wallendas, tightrope-walks across Niagara Falls as spectators look on. Photo: Mark Blinch
OUT FOR A STROLL: Nik Wallenda, of famous acrobatic family The Flying Wallendas, tightrope-walks across Niagara Falls as spectators look on. Photo: Mark Blinch

Philip Sherwell in NEW YORK

STEP by drenched step, through swirling mist and gusting wind, Nik Wallenda has become the first man to walk across the most ferocious section of Niagara Falls.

The scion of a famous acrobatic family took 30 minutes to edge his way along a 1,800ft, two-inch-diameter steel cable, balancing nearly 200ft above the thundering falls.

The last person to cross part of the gorge did so in 1896, before a ban was imposed.

But Mr Wallenda, 33, is the first to complete the full stretch over the Horseshoe Falls, after a long battle with US and Canadian authorities.

More than 100,000 people gathered on both sides of Niagara as he crossed from the US to Canada, while millions more watched live on television.

Insurance requirements meant he had to wear a safety harness for the first time in his career, but Mr Wallenda proudly declared he did not need it. His mother, Delilah -- also a wire walker -- made him suede moccasins with an elk-skin sole to prevent him slipping in the wet.

He trained for months, practising against water blasts from a fire hose and gusts from a wind machine. But in reality, he said, the mist and moving water made it impossible to focus on the cable.

The father of three, a seventh-generation member of the Flying Wallendas circus family, added: "People say I'm insane all the time, but they don't understand this is something I've done since I was two and it's just in my blood."

He dedicated his achievement to his great-grandfather, Karl, who fell to his death during a stunt in Puerto Rico in 1978. And for his next trick, he has the first permit to cross the Grand Canyon -- roughly three times longer than his Niagara feat.

© Telegraph

Sunday Independent

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