A More Cheerful Time of Bravery

“When I see three balls, I juggle; when I see two towers, I walk” — Philippe Petit

In the midst of our solemn reflection of the thousands of acts of heroism that occurred at the World Trade Center ten years ago today, I thought it might be nice to pause and remember a more cheerful one that occurred there on August 7, 1974. On that day, French acrobat Philippe Petit performed what is undoubtedly the greatest feat of tightrope walking since Blondin crossed Niagara Falls, by walking between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. He spent 45 minutes a quarter of a mile above the pavement, not just walking, but hopping, spinning, dancing! Think of the winds there must be at that altitude, boys and girls. It is hard to believe such a thing is possible, but Petit did it.

His act was illegal of course. It required six years of planning — not just practicing his wire-walking skills, but engaging in the sort of planning that is required for a major, high-level heist. It required innumerable vists to the site using false identities, and an involved scheme employing an entire crew of disguised workmen to smuggle in the 450-pound wire. BOY! Building security was rather diferent in those days. The stunt also involved several helicopter fly-bys with our very own Jim Moore taking snaps so his pal Petit could use them for reference as he plotted and planned. Jim and his photos are very well respresented in the 2008 film about the event Man on Wire.

Mr. Petit has done many similar stunts and feats in the ensuing decades, but none to top this lulu. He remains with us to tell his tale, which must be regarded as one of the most amazing true stories of all time.

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