In 2013, the great-grandson of the man who founded the famous Flying Wallendas walked across the Grand Canyon. There was no bridge, and there were no safety wires. The only thing between his feet and the rocky ground over a mile below him was a thin length of rope.

A family of fliers

Starting back in the early 1900s with Karl Wallenda and his crew of acrobats and aerialists, the Wallenda family has maintained a unique family tradition. Karl’s stunts involving him crossing incredible heights on tightrope wires were popular talk up until his death in 1978, when he tumbled 121 feet from a poorly secured highwire strung between buildings during a stunt in Puerto Rico. Several of his family members, including his daughter and granddaughter, carried on the legacy he began. The next significant claim to fame came from his great-grandson, Nik, who has made his mark in the Guinness Book of World Records as a daredevil and aerialist.

Natural wonders

In June of 2012, Nik Wallenda set a world record at his largest event to date when he crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Sources estimate that at least a billion people worldwide heard of his stunt, launching the Wallenda family name back into the spotlight for the first time in over thirty years. That stunt set the stage for future acrobatic crowdpleasers, including his Grand Canyon crossing the following year. That walk, which took place on June 23, 2013, was aired live with a 10-second delay on the Discovery Channel for people to watch around the world. Wallenda said, in preparation for the canyon crossing, he practiced over the Sarasota River, used fans to simulate 91 mile-per-hour gusts of wind, and even practiced during Tropical Storm Andrea. Ultimately, the 1,400-foot-long, 1,500-foot-high walk went without a hitch, and he completed the crossing in just under 23 minutes.