The Flying Wallendas are braving the New York skies in a daring never-before-attempted stunt to cross a 1,300ft-long high-wire set 25-stories high across two sky scrapers in Times Square.
If all goes well, it’ll be an incredible comeback for daredevil Nik Wallenda and his sister Lijana after she took a catastrophic fall during a high-wire stunt in 2017 and broke every bone in her face and suffered additional injury to her ribs and foot.
Around 9:20 on Sunday Nik Wallenda took the first steps in the gravity-defying act and Lijana followed soon after marking her first stunt since the 2017 accident, singing hymns as she went.
Nik strutted out with confidence as Lijana was a bit delayed and gave a last minute nervous glance over her safety gear.
In the stunt Nik and Lijana wear safety harnesses – something Nik usually opposes – as they cross the wire that’s just three-fourths of an inch wide, the same width of a quarter.
Starting at opposite ends, they will meet in the middle and cross each other’s paths by Nik stepping over Lijana.
They estimate it’ll take 20 to 30 minutes to complete the daring walk.
The Flying Wallendas, consisting of siblings Nik and Lijana Wallenda, are crossing a 1,300ft-long high-wire between two skyscrapers in Times Square
The stunt began around 9.20pm with Nik taking the first steps onto the wire
Lijana nervously followed afterward her brother onto the daunting high-wire. It’s her first stunt since her catastrophic 2017 accident where she fell while performing a human pyramid and broke all the bones in her face
In the stunt they’ll cross a quarter-wide 1,300ft-long high-wire set 25-stories high across two sky scrapers in Times Square
‘I knew I’d get back on the wire. It’s my life. It’s my passion,’ she said on ABC in an interview aired before her walk.
‘This is who I am. This is what I love. it’s still hard sometimes. I doubt sometimes. But I put my trust completely in god and believe he has given me the mental strength,’ she added.
Prior to heading out Lijana said she was nervous about her ankle – the same that was injured in the fall – saying it was a bit swollen after walking around the city in a shaky pre-stunt interview.
When asked why she dared to walk out again she said, ‘Walking the wire is my passion. But I kind of lost that and forgot who I was after the fall…And I finally remembered who i was through this whole training.’
‘I knew I had to push through, and boy, I’m so glad I did,’ she added.
Nik started the walk saying: ‘If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.’
In the 2017 incident Lijana was attempting an eight-person pyramid stunt during a Circus Sarasota rehearsal when she and four other performers fell 40 feet to the ground.
Following the incident, Nik is more than happy to wear safety harnesses.
‘In this situation especially, with my sister involved, I do feel like it’s very important,’ he told The Wrap. ‘With everything that she’s gone through, and that near-fatal accident that she went through a couple years ago that we were all involved in, I just think it’s important.’
Lijana Wallenda’s horrifying injuries after she fell 40 ft from a high wire in Sarasota in 2017, breaking every bone in her face. She had to have 72 pins put in place to reconstruct it
Lijana had to have 72 pins put in her face and some in her foot. One of her X-Rays is shown
The performer also broke a bone in her upper left arm. It is shown in an X-Ray above
Lijana is shown practicing for Sunday’s Times Square stunt with her brother, Nik. She said she was nervous in the clip because the wire was moving lots
‘To be honest, I don’t think that I would allow her to do this — not that I control her, but I just wouldn’t be comfortable,’ he continued. ‘And I feel like I would be foolish at that point. So, for this one it was a little easier to comply than normal, though it is not my favorite situation, it’s not the ideal situation.’
The Wallendas come from a long-family of acrobats dating back to the late 1700s.
Their first stunt in the U.S. was in 1928 at Madison Square Garden.
Nik Wallenda currently holds several Guinness World Records and is best known for crossing the Grand Canyon and the Niagara Falls while precariously balancing on a tight-wire.
Just earlier this week Lijana shared images of her horrific injuries from the 2017 injuries showing her bloated face from her broken bones and her broken ribs and foot.