Daredevils don’t always succeed
It seems ironic. On Saturday at the Vectren Air Show in Dayton, Ohio, thousands of horrified spectators watched as a plane crashed and burst into flames, killing the pilot and a wing walker. A day later, television viewers tuned in to the Discovery Channel to watch Nik Wallenda walk a high wire across a gorge.
The wing walker was identified as Jane Wicker, 44, the mother of two teenage boys. She hoped to wed her fiance while wing walking next year. The pilot was Charlie Schwenker, 64. The air show restarted Sunday after a moment of silence. Continuing an air show after a fatal accident supposedly is a time-honored tradition to honor the dead.
Meanwhile, The Associated Press reported Monday that New York’s police commissioner will reject Wallenda’s proposal to walk a tightrope between that city’s most famous skyscrapers. Wallenda, a member of the famous “Flying Wallendas” circus family, says he would like to walk a tightrope between the Chrysler and Empire State buildings. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said such a death-defying walk would put spectators at risk.
Wallenda, 34, completed a walk on a 2-inch cable over a gorge near the Grand Canyon on Sunday evening before a live TV audience estimated at 13 million, making it one of the highest-rated Discovery Channel shows ever. He also walked over Niagara Falls a year ago. He spent 22 minutes walking a quarter mile without a safety net or harness, 1,500 feet above the Little Colorado River Gorge.
Wallenda’s great-grandfather, Karl Wallenda, fell during a performance in Puerto Rico and died at age 73. A cousin and an uncle are among other family members who have died performing high-wire stunts.
What is it about such stunts, as well as train and auto-racing wrecks and natural disasters such as tornadoes and floods, that attract us like ants to a summertime picnic?
Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or follow him on Twitter or