Jay Cochrane, a dot in the sky, kept moving toward me. Step by step, heel to toe, on a one and a half inch wire over thirteen hundred feet above the Yangtze River. Jay told me, "Just take life one step at a time." Jay's words rang true as he covered the half mile in the sky.
In the three weeks leading up to the skywalk, we spent nearly every day walking. Jay's wire is an upside down suspension bridge, with Jay walking on the inverted roadway. Thousands of miles of guide wires are attached to the main cable from hold points on the banks of the river and along the walls of the gorge, just to keep the roadway as stable as possible.
What is a skywalker?
No he is not a member of the Star Wars universe. Jay Cochrane created pathways in the sky that made him seem to levitate between buildings and natural wonders. Jay Cochrane: My Life as a Skywalker features Jay Cochrane telling his own story in words, videos and photographs.
Throughout his 50-year career, he reached for the stars, walking higher and further than anyone else had ever accomplished on a wire. The Great China Skywalk still remains as the greatest highwire engineering feats in history.
Jay Cochrane went on to other world record performances. In 1996, he completed the longest nighttime skywalk between two office towers in Shanghai. Next came the longest and highest blindfolded skywalk at the Flamingo Hilton in flamboyant Las Vegas, broadcast live on Guinness World Records.
In 2002, Jay brought highwire walking back to Niagara Falls for the first time in a hundred years, walking above Clinton Hill with the falls as his backdrop
Jay Cochrane created bridges in the sky and raised thousands of dollars for charity. It's time for a lasting memorial to be built.
Niagara Falls was his passion and it was stripped away from him when Nik Wallenda was given permission to walk over the actual falls. Jay's accomplishments for the city far outweigh Nik's half-hearted highwire walk. It felt like the circus coming to town.
Hey Niagara Falls, how about giving due to your native son?
I had the honor to photograph Jay's performances in Niagara Falls and around the world. They were spectacular.
All images are copyright Mark D Phillips and are available for purchase through this website. Let's make Jay Cochrane's legacy complete.