Glass-Bottom Deck 1,200 Metres Above Grand Canyon Is Opened

Indian leaders and a former astronaut stepped gingerly beyond the Grand Canyon's rim yesterday, staring through the glass floor and into the 1,219-metre chasm below during the opening ceremony for a new observation deck.

A few members of the Hualapai Indian Tribe, which allowed the Grand Canyon Skywalk to be built, hopped up and down on the horseshoe-shaped structure.

At its edge -- 21 metres beyond the rim -- the group peeked over the glass wall.

"I can hear the glass cracking!" Hualapai chair Charlie Vaughn said playfully.

Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin declared it a "magnificent first walk."

The Hualapai, whose reservation is about 145 kilometres west of Grand Canyon National Park, allowed Las Vegas developer David Jin to build the US$30 million Skywalk.

The hope is to create a unique attraction on their side of the canyon.

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