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Thomas Huckle Weller
 Thomas Huckle Weller was an American virologist and a Nobel Prize winner.
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15 June 2020

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Nik Wallenda successfully tightrope walk over Niagara Falls15.6.2012

Wikipedia (05 Jun 2013, 09:07)

On the day of the walk, June 15, 2012, crowds estimated in the tens of thousands gathered on the American side of the falls. On the Canadian side, the crowd was estimated at 120,000 people. Due to the location, the wire could not use supports and had to be custom made. As a result, the wire was able to sway significantly in the breeze, making the crossing more difficult than it would have otherwise been. It was the first time in Wallenda's career that he performed without guy wire stabilizers. The wire was two inches (five centimeters) in diameter, significantly wider than the 5/8ths of an inch wire Wallenda typically uses, and weighed roughly 8.5 tons (7,700 kg). The extra width was necessary to make the cable strong enough to withstand the tension required. Getting it across the Falls was a major technological challenge. On June 12, a helicopter flew a yellow rope across the canyon. The rope was attached to the steel high-wire and a giant winch was used to slowly pull the wire across as the crew slowly increased tension to support the increasing weight. Weighted pendulums were attached every 150 feet (46 m) to keep the wire from twisting.

To make the walk accessible to viewers worldwide, it was held after dark, with the first step coming at 10:16 p.m. local time (02:16 June 16 UTC). The time was also advantageous to Wallenda, as half of the volume of water going over the Falls is diverted for power generation purposes after dusk. Wallenda wore a microphone for the event which allowed Troffer to talk with him, while the public listened in, throughout the walk.

Wallenda's chosen path took him 1,800 feet (550 m) across the widest part of the falls. He slowly inched his way across the slippery wire, praying and praising Jesus Christ as he went. As he took his first steps over the water, walking on a downward slope, he told reporters, "It's a beautiful view ... A dream in the making." Later he described the first step over the falls as the toughest part of his journey. "Mentally, your mind goes, 'What are you doing?'" he recalled. When he reached the midpoint, he was roughly 35 feet (11 m) lower than where he started due to the sag of the wire. The second half of the walk brought him uphill, back to the same elevation at which he began.

Wallenda did not falter or totter in the slightest during his walk, nor did he stop to do any extra tricks during the walk (as he often does). Talking to ABC reporters live, as he entered the final phase of the trip he admitted, "I'm drained ... My hands are going numb. I feel like I'm getting weak." Later he said, "my forearm just started to cramp worse than it ever has been before", attributing it the stress of the day. Near the end, he stopped, got down on one knee, and blew a kiss to the crowd. He got up, pumped his fist, and ran the final few steps. He completed the crossing at 10:41 p.m. EDT, 25 minutes after he started. In so doing, Wallenda became the first person to cross directly over Niagara Falls on a high-wire. In the 1800s, a few tightrope walkers had crossed over the Niagara Gorge down river, but none had ever crossed directly over the Falls. Prior to Wallenda, the last person to cross the river on tightrope was James Hardy in 1896. According to Wallenda, it was also the longest unsupported tightrope walk in history. He carried his passport on the trip and was required to present it to Canadian border guards waiting for him upon his arrival on the Canadian side of the falls.

ABC required Wallenda to wear a safety harness for the walk. After the decision was made in mid-May, a spokesperson for ABC explained: "We had always made clear from the beginning that significant safety precautions would need to be taken. This is the outcome of that." Wallenda was not happy about the decision, stating "It's disheartening—I wanted to do it without anything." The Niagara Parks Commission indicated it was unaware of such a requirement when they were considering approval. During the walk, Wallenda told his dad that he felt "like a jackass" wearing the harness. Many observers predicted he would remove the harness part way through the walk, but ultimately he did not do so. Before the crossing, Wallenda had promised that he only would remove the harness if it became a hazard during the walk. "When I first found out about it, there was no doubt in my mind I was going to take it off", he later said. "But as [the event] got closer and closer, I realized I had to honor my word. I've always said I'm a man of integrity." He also acknowledged that removing the harness would have created contractual problems with ABC. "The way a TV network works, if something goes wrong, they fire people," he said. "If I would have dropped that tether, four people would have been fired because I'm too selfish to care or because it's all about me." In addition to the harness, Wallenda wore a water proof track suit and shoes custom made by his mother for the walk. Part moccasin, part ballet shoe, the shoes were designed to get a good grip when wet.

Project costs were between US$1.2 and $1.3 million, necessitating ABC's financial support (and with it, their demand of a safety harness). "I'd dare say that never in the history of the circus industry has there been one event that costs this much," said Wallenda. The production was a serious financial strain on Wallenda. "It's been a tough situation all around", he said a week before the event, blaming the lingering fight over the safety harness for inhibiting sponsorship deals. When production costs ran over the original estimate of $1 million, he appealed to the public for help using the fundraising website Indiegogo. He eventually met his goal of $50,000. Additionally, Niagara Falls, ON mayor Jim Diodati asked local businesses to chip in, saying he hoped to raise $250,000. Ultimately, he helped generate about $200,000 of support from local business associations. The main causes of the overrun were the need to produce two custom cables – one for the performance and a shorter one for practice – and the need to hire a new helicopter company to set up the cable at the last minute, after the original one discovered they did not hold the necessary licenses. After the event, Wallenda said he had probably lost money on the event; however, he added, it was "clearly worth it" in the long term. With all but one bill accounted for, Wallenda said he lost less than $50,000 on the event. The fundraising, combined with several contractors lowering their bills, help him get close to budget. "I think people still have the impression that Nik Wallenda is going to walk away from this thing making millions of dollars, but that's not the case," he commented.

After completing the walk, Wallenda said it was more difficult than he had expected. "That mist was thick. It was hard to see at times. The wind was wild. It'd come at me one way and hit me from the front, and hit me from the back." Weather instruments showed gusts up to 14 mph during the walk. Wallenda further remarked that the turbulent waters below made it difficult for him to see the wire. Before the walk, Jay Cochrane, a veteran wire walker who had unsuccessfully petitioned to walk Horseshoe Falls for 30 years, said of the local weather "Unpredictable is a mild word. It is unforgiving ... [Horeshoe Falls] can spray mist anywhere from 380 to 590 feet in the air. I've seen it, I've measured it." He added that walking Horseshoe Falls was an opportunity "like none other in history." Long-time circus performer, Jackie LeClaire, remarked "aerialists always try to calculate risk. Nik couldn't do that because this walk had never been done before." Local historian, Paul Gromosiak, who has researched daredevil activity in the Niagara region for his books, said Wallenda's proximity to the falls made his act far more dangerous than any prior act.

After talking briefly with reporters, Wallenda called his grandmother, who reportedly had been too frightened to watch the walk, in order to let her know he made it safely. In a news conference shortly thereafter, Wallenda remarked "I feel like I'm on cloud nine right now ... The impossible is not quite the impossible if you set your mind to it." He credited a combination of prayer, concentration, and preparation for his success.

" Beautiful moments of our lives."