Wallenda Walk: With Nine Days Left, New Questions Surface | News
NIAGARA FALLS, NY - The rigors of rigging his cable across the Niagara Gorge was something Nik Wallenda actually joked about after his last practice session in the Cataract City on May 22nd.
"Well, it all starts with me jumping into the water with the cable, swimming across, then climbing up the side," Wallenda began to say, amid the laughter of a crowd of fans when he was asked to describe the process.
But now the task at hand is no laughing matter, as the time draws near for his historic walk on the night of Friday June 15th.
As Channel 2 News has previously reported, the plan called for a helicopter to first fly a high tension wire, or "messenger line" across the gorge. Once secured on both sides, Wallenda's cable --which weighs nearly seven tons--would be attached to one end of the messenger line, and winched by massive machines across the gorge, never touching the water.
"As with all huge projects, issues come up at the almost 11th hour and that's sort of what's happening now," said Wallenda's manager Winston Simone in a phone interview with WGRZ-TV.
As there are no helicopter firms in Western New York with the proper permits to do the job, it's left Wallenda scrambling to find one elsewhere.
"We're sorting it through with a few of the helicopter companies to see which are the ones that can help us get that wire across. Actually we think we have a couple of companies that can do it," Simone said, insisting the issue is nothing to worry about.
There's also a plan "B" involving the Maid of the Mist, which was contacted to inquire about its capabilities to render assistance in getting the messenger line across --just in case.
"We are interested in seeing what we can do", said Maid of the Mist President Christopher Glynn in a statement issued by a public relations firm.
"The parks commissions in Canada and the United States, as well as a number of other government agencies in both countries, would have to approve any plan, and we'll work with them to see if we can use our boats in support of this project," Glynn's statement said.
Contacted by Two On Your Side, Niagara Parks Commission Chair Janice Thomson indicated, however, that how the cable gets across the gorge is not of a primary concern to that agency and that it is pretty much Wallenda's issue to deal with.
By whatever eventual means, the rigging is supposed to start next Monday, June 11th, and take two to three days to complete.
Wallenda himself is scheduled to arrive back in Niagara Falls on Wednesday the 13th, for his planned walk two nights later.
Wednesday the 12th is also when officials in Niagara Falls, New York and Niagara Falls State Park will host a press conference to discuss the logistics of parking and traffic.
Before that, The Niagara Parks Commission will share with the media its integrated public safety event management plan, developed for the Canadian side during the crossing.
Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Norm Fisher from Eden.
Visit our special Walk In 2 History website to view all of our stories on Nik Wallenda's daring feat, and for the latest information on the event as it nears.