5. Flying Wallendas
The Flying Wallendas are the most storied tight-ropers in performance history.
The old circus family that consisted of Karl, his wife Helen Kreis, his brother Herman, and numerous other family members. Karl Wallenda pioneered an act called the Seven-Person Chair Pyramid, in which seven people balanced on tightropes (and a chair) thirty-two feet in the air without the use of safety nets.
The Wallendas were undoubtedly excellent acrobats and daredevils; but in 1962, their act went horribly wrong. The lead man faltered, and three people crashed to the ground. Karl Wallenda’s son-in-law, Richard Faughnan, and Wallenda’s nephew, Dieter Schepp, were both killed. Wallenda’s adopted son, Mario, was paralyzed from the waist down.
On March 22, 1978, during a promotional walk in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Karl Wallenda fell from the wire and died. It was between the towers of Condado Plaza Hotel, 10 stories high. He was 73. Nik Wallenda completed the walk on June 4, 2011, with his mother, Delilah.