Orlando Eye Stuntman’s Death-defying Walk

Today, Nik Wallenda, a performing stuntman, walked without a safety line across the rim of the 400-foot Orlando Eye, a new observation wheel in Orlando. A capsule brought the stuntman to the top of the wheel before he exited and walked–without any safety harness or net–along the massive structure between the moving capsules. This is the first time 36-year-old Wallenda has tried such a stunt publicly without even a balancing pole, so there were definitely worries about his safety. The day before, Wallenda expressed concerns about the weather, and the possible problems that might arise from adverse conditions.

“[The structure] has a very fine finish on it, almost like a car, and it’s very very slippery,” he said. “So my concern is, as I make my way to the rim, not even getting to the rim, that I could lose my grip and in the end, I could fall to the ground.” However, even though the skies remained dark, conditions were acceptable for the walk along the six inch metal rim. Wallenda estimated the winds to be roughly 20 mph, and he pushed on regardless of the wet–and possibly slippery–rim.

His stuntman legacy is part of a long running family tradition. His great-grandfather Karl Wallenda founded the troupe of family acrobats, The Flying Wallendas. He died during a performance in Puerto Rico in 1978, still performing death-defying stunts without a safety net at age 73.

Wallenda, a father of three, famous for such previous feats as crossing the edge of Niagara Falls, and walking a two inch-thick tightrope over a gorge in the Grand Canyon, doesn’t take his stunts lightly. He maintains a rigorous training program, and regularly prays in the run-up before a stunt.

The stunt, which took four minutes to complete, might qualify as record-breaking, but as Guinness Book Of Records officials weren’t present for the event, Wallenda will have to wait for the organization to officially certify it. Nevertheless, Wallenda was jubilant after his death-defying adventure.

“We’re inspiring people to do greater things, to step out of their comfort zones,” he said to reporters when he was back on solid ground. “What an amazing feeling it was up there.” In a previous adventure in 2014 Wallenda crossed a 454-foot tightrope suspended between two Chicago skyscrapers, balancing without a safety net almost 700 feet above ground level. The event was part of a promotion for the new observation wheel which will be open to the public next month. The entertainment complex that houses the wheel is run by idrive360, who paid Wallenda an undisclosed sum for his performance.

Performing death-defying stunts that are over in two seconds vs. being a long-term polar adventurer. Courageous in very different ways, aren’t they?: