The Flying Wallendas' Deadly Tightrope Accident


If the words "Walenda" and "flying" ring an ambiguous sort of bell, you might remember when Nick Wallenda crossed Niagara Falls in 2012 and then the Grand Canyon the next year tightly without any safety gear. did. It turns out that Wallenda is a member of the seventh generation of a family of tightrope walkers, and her guts are even more impressive given that the family has lost several members in a tragic tightrope accident in the 60s.

Flying Wallands

The Flying Wallendas, as the family became known, began with Karl Wallenda, who was born in Germany in 1905 to a circus family. He contributed to hard learning, but in 1922, wanting more control over his work, he and his brother, Hermann, struck out on their own. They hired two other artists, Joseph Geiger and Helen Kreis, the latter of whom soon became the wife of Carl Wallenda, and the quartet performed throughout Europe, where they were noticed by the Ringling Brothers and the Barnum & Bailey Circus. For his first American performance at Madison Square Garden in 1928, he was forced to perform without a safety net, as it was lost during the long transatlantic voyage. From then on it became his job to roam without a net. By the 60s, many more spouses and children had become involved in family matters.

The Fatal Crash Of The Flying Valendas

In the early '60s, Carl Wallenda created a unique and heart-stopping stunt: the seven-person chair pyramid. For this stunt, four Tightrope walkers were positioned on the Tightrope with the balance bar, while two others were balanced on the bars above them and the last walker was balanced on a chair on a bar between the two middle walkers. All seven actors were intertwined, and it was imperative that they all be together. Otherwise the pyramid will collapse.

The worst came on January 30, 1962. Performing his signature stunt for Shrine Circus at Detroit's State Fair Coliseum, the lead man on the wire—Karl Wallenda's nephew, Dieter Shepp—took a wrong move that saw the entire pyramid look in horror with as many as 7,000 spectators. Four crashed to the ground: Shepp and Carl Wallenda's son-in-law, Richard Foughton, who both died from the impact; Karl's son, Mario, who was permanently paralyzed from the waist down; And Carl himself, who suffered a broken pelvis.

Shep's sister, Jana, who was in the chair at the top of the pyramid, managed to catch the wire as it fell and was held for dear life, while people on the ground grabbed the net and placed themselves under it, whose She later fell safely but fell out of the net and suffered a head injury. Two other family members narrowly escaped the incident, and one of them also stood on the wire throughout the ordeal. In a real demonstration of the need for an ongoing show, the surviving members of the Flying Valendas performed again at the same venue the very next day.

More Tragic Tightrope Deaths

The tragic 1962 was not the last time Wallendas' death-defying stunts turned outright fatal. The next year, Carl Wallenda's sister-in-law was killed during a string performance, and his son-in-law died in 1972 when the metal rigging of his string came into contact with a live electrical wire. On March 22, 1978, Carl Wallenda himself was killed in a demonstration when he attempted to cross a rope between two towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel in Puerto Rico. A 73-year-old daredevil died after falling 100 feet after slipping on a rope.

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