Copyright ©2011 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

A busy week in Albany. About to adjourn for the summer, the New York legislature wrestled with questions over the budget, power plants and gay marriage. Another question hung in the balance. Should the state allow Nik Wallenda of the famous Flying Wallendas family of daredevil stunt performers to hang in the balance, too. He wants to walk over Niagara Falls on a tightrope, which for now is illegal.

The state legislature this week passed a bill that would lift the restriction. Governor Andrew Cuomo hasn't indicated whether he'll sign it. Many, including the mayor of Niagara Falls, say the high-wire act would give the town's lagging economy a much-needed boost.

Nik Wallenda, the king of the high wire who holds multiple Guinness World Records, is on the phone now from Branson, Missouri.

Mr. Wallenda, thanks very much for being with us.

Mr. NIK WALLENDA (The Flying Wallendas): Thank you for having me.

SIMON: Why do you want to do this?

Mr. WALLENDA: I've been doing it for my entire life. I'm 32 now, and I started walking a wire at the age of 2. And ever since I can remember I have thought of areas across the world where I would want to walk a wire. And this has been a dream of mine forever. It's in my blood.

SIMON: I've seen Niagara Falls a couple of times. And my memory is that it's windy and wet. It must be hard to walk a wire when it's windy and wet.

Mr. WALLENDA: There is wind involved and there is quite a big of moisture. We train very hard under windy conditions. I've actually walked a wire in my backyard with 90-mile-an-hour winds.

And also the other thing that is a misconception is that when it's moist or wet that the wire becomes slippery. Well, it's actually just opposite to that. Our wire shoes are suede leather. Well, if you take suede leather and put it on a piece of steel, and put moisture on it, it actually sticks.

SIMON: Does this involve crossing an international border?

Mr. WALLENDA: I would like to cross over to the Canadian side. There's a lot of channels and doors that we have to go through and permission that we have to get. One thing that I pride myself on is everything that I do is completely legit. We go through every channel and do it the proper way.

We actually bring our own safety people in so they don't get in harm's way. If anything were to happen to me I have my own helicopter pilot on standby. I've got my own dive team, so that no one locally would be in harm's way at any point.

SIMON: Well, I'm sorry I called you a daredevil.

Mr. WALLENDA: Well, you know, many people do, but it is more of an art than anything.

To do this walk, I believe it's around 2,000 feet, to go from the U.S. to Canada, I would train walking a wire almost 8,000 feet, to over-train for this.

SIMON: Do you have a timeframe in mind?

Mr. WALLENDA: We don't have a timeframe yet. We have a full year from the date that Governor Cuomo signs off on the bill. And it is a process, so there's no way to put a date on it yet.

SIMON: Well, Mr. Wallenda, good luck to you, sir.

Mr. WALLENDA: Well, thank you so much. Thank you for having me on.

SIMON: Nik Wallenda, no daredevil but the king of the high wire.

(Soundbite of music)

This is NPR News.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: