World Trade Center – August 7, 1974

7:10 AM. It has been barely six months since this dream entered our minds. When Philippe returned form his first trip to New York the morning of January 31, 1974, he ran to tell me about his latest discovery: gigantic 110 story twin towers under construction in downtown Manhattan that would be the tallest buildings in the world. What an ideal place to string a wire! He needed my help as he had for the walk at Notre Dame.

I didn’t hesitate for a second. Of course I’d be with him on this, but my new job and family responsibilities prevented me from leaving Paris to prepare the coup. I told him he had to return to New York alone to do the groundwork, and that once he had all the necessary information, we could devise a serious plan to get into the towers undetected and secretly set up his cable.

Unfortunately, nothing went as I had hoped. Philippe never did what I’d asked of him, or gathered any concrete information, and I had to argue incessantly with him to get him to do a minimum of preparation. In May, we had to abandon the walk, and even when I imposed my plan afterwards, he didn’t deliver. The rigging of this wire was a seven hour nightmare destined to fall apart right up to the last second. In fact, from beginning to end this adventure was total chaos and would never have succeeded without the precious help of Jim Moore, Jean Pierre Dousseau, Barry Greenhouse, and of course Annie Allix.

The police have just appeared on Philippe’s tower. Time for me to go, so I quickly take a few last shots of him lying down on the wire. The mission is accomplished: my friend is poised between the towers, and we have made his dream come true. I leave him alone with his thoughts, face to face with his dream, face to face with the clouds. Face to face with himself.

Face to Face