JOHN ROBBINS/Bullet News
NIAGARA FALLS – Legendary wirewalker Jay Cochrane – affectionately known as The Prince of the Air – has died.
Cochrane, who had been living in Niagara Falls where his feats of aerial acrobatics are well known, died Wednesday as a result of pancreatic cancer.
He was 69.
Tributes to the performer, who was dedicated to many charitable causes, began to pour in almost immediately.
“So incredibly sad to hear of the news that Jay Cochrane has passed away,” fellow wirewalker Nik Wallenda, posted to his Facebook account Wednesday evening.
“A legend and a true friend and great inspiration to me. You will be greatly missed!” Wallenda wrote.
Cochrane was born on May 1, 1944, in St. John, N.B. He grew up in North Bay and Sudbury.
He earned his first world record in 1972, walking 2 1/2 miles on a wire above the Canadian National Exhibition.
Perhaps his greatest feat was conquering the Yangtze River gorge in China in 1995, walking a wire 2,100-feet long and 1,350-feet high.
His greatest unfulfilled goal was to cross Niagara Falls on a high wire.
Although he never had the opportunity to do that, Cochrane’s daring and showmanship was the marvel of residents and visitors of Niagara Falls, during several summers he performed here.
During the summer of 2012, at age 68, he he performed daily on a 750-foot high wire stretched between the Skylon Tower and the Hilton Hotel.
That walk helped raise money for local children’s charities, a passion that was with him right until his death.
An obituary posted to his website Wednesday says that it was Cochrane’s desire that any gifts given in his honour after his death be directed to the Niagara Branch of the Tender Wishes Foundation and the Boys and Girls Club of Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati said he was saddened to hear of Cochrane’s passing.
“As a skywalker, he was incredibly talented and entertaining,” said Diodati. “And as a fellow human being, he was so caring and sharing. We’re happy to have given him the Key to the City, because he already had the key to our hearts.”
Cochrane is survived by two brothers and two sisters.
Memorial arrangements have not been announced.