Aerialist Wallenda hangs by teeth from chopper over Niagara Falls
On Thursday, aerialist Erendira Wallenda did a daredevil stunt by successfully hanging by her teeth from a chopper over Niagara Falls. Daredevil Nik Wallenda, her husband, succeeded in walking a tight rope over the falls five year ago. The mother of three, Erendira was tied to the hoop hanging from a chopper, 300 feet above the water. Wallenda performed various dramatic poses, she even waved her arms as she dangled by her knees and toes doing a handstand and split. With the help of mouth guard, she hung twice by her teeth.
There was a presence of around 200 people on the shore at Niagara Falls State Park, capturing photos and videos of her stunt. She appeared graceful silhouette against the clouds. After the completion of the stunt she said, "There are no words. It was beautiful". The couple said that the stunt broke the height record of Nik Wallenda, which was set in 2011, were he hung by his teeth 250 feet above Silver Dollar City in Branson in Missouri.
Erendira was surprised by the windy conditions above the cataracts, which her husband had to deal with during his 2012 stunt. "I respect this man so much more because it was way more windy than I thought it would be," she said.
Helicopter pilot Paul Barth said that Wallenda signalled him to fly higher during the routine to get away from the wind. "She was trying to get up above the turbulence," said Barth of Palm Beach, Florida, who has worked before with the Wallendas. "It billows up as you can tell by the spray". The aerialist spent about eight minutes of the 10-minute stunt hovering over the falls. Afterward, she and her husband spoke of the attraction of the falls, which has long attracted daredevils.
"There's something almost magical that draws you to it. It's kind of dangerous but it's beautiful in the same way," she said.
County and city officials who helped finance the stunt hope people watching news coverage will feel the same pull. The city and Niagara County Legislature each committed $35,000 to the stunt with the goal of boosting tourism.
Scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on a weekday, Erendira Wallenda's stunt drew nowhere near the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds of her husband's 2012 prime-time high wire walk. Legislators and the Wallendas said the payoff would come later, with the spread of photos and video from the stunt.
"It's generating the awareness, getting people here, people who wouldn't have come before," said Randy Bradt, the county legislature's majority leader. "I really believe the rate of return on our investment will be tenfold for us."
The Wallendas planned to open Wallenda-themed entertainment complex in Niagara Falls for several years, but there has been little, if any, public progress. The Wallendas are scheduled to go on a 2 ½-month tour with the Big Apple Circus in October, Nik Wallenda said. Erendira Wallenda also performs on a 70-foot away pole and high wire apart from dangling from a chopper. Erendira traces her circus roots back seven generations on one side and eight on the other. She holds a world record of completing 40 revolutions in her hoop in 50 seconds beneath a helicopter above the Atlantic City shore in 2016.