Aerialist daredevil Erendira Wallenda hangs by teeth from helicopter above Niagara Falls
Erendira Wallenda celebrated the fifth anniversary of her husband’s historic walk over the falls on a high wire by hanging by her teeth from a helicopter and hovering 300 feet over the Horseshoe Falls Thursday morning.
The aerialist’s performance broke a world record, previously held by her husband, Nik Wallenda.
Nik was in the helicopter encouraging his wife, as she also hung by her toes from a hoop.
“That was way more windy than I thought it was going to be,” said Erendira after the performance.
“But then I kind of had to put my mind back to my backyard where I train all the time and tell myself no, this is what I’ve done my entire life. I started performing when I was five years old, so once I looked up and I saw my husband smiling at me and he’s like, you’ve got this babe, I was like, yeah, you know what, that’s right.”
Erendira said she remembers wondering to herself five years ago watching her husband cross the falls what doing something similar would look and feel like.
“Today I know. It was beautiful.”
Erendira said she wanted to spend more time in the air, but there was no way to communicate that to her husband.
“I wanted to stop and go a little bit closer to the audience that I had because that’s what makes you feel alive, you see people smile at you and you’re hopefully inspiring other people. I probably would want to spend all day long up there. It was beautiful and an amazing experience.”
She said as an artist and as a daredevil, there’s something “almost magical” about the falls.
“It’s kind of dangerous, but it’s beautiful in the same way, which I kind of think that that’s what we do. When I watched my husband walk the wire, or even me be on anything … yes, to you it’s dangerous, but hopefully there’s something in there that’s beautiful and that’s the way I look at the falls, so that’s, for myself, the reason why I was like, yeah, I want to do that as well.”
Nik described his wife’s performance Thursday as “absolutely amazing.”
“To be up there and watching her … she had a huge grin on her face the whole time,” he said, adding the pilot deserves credit for keeping the chopper as steady as possible while facing “extremely unpredictable” winds.
Nik said he continues to hold out hope to create a permanent facility and family entertainment centre in Niagara Falls, N.Y. where people can try to do “outrageous things like we do in a safe setting.”
“Something extremely unique to anywhere around the world and for the first one to be right here in Niagara Falls,” he said.
“The dream would be to have a permanent theatre basically here where we can perform throughout the summer for all the tourists …”
Crowds of people gathered on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls around Table Rock to watch Erendira’s performance. Some people came to watch the performance, while others stumbled upon it while walking down the Niagara Parkway.
“We woke up super early to come here. I was nervous for her,” said Ania Desmarais, of Connecticut.
“I can’t believe anybody could do that. She’s an adrenaline junkie, I think.”
Holly Withers, also of Connecticut, said she was “a little nervous” watching the performance, “imagining if I was the one to do it.”
Patrick Thompson, of New Orleans, described the performance as “bizarre.”
“I didn’t have binoculars or anything. It was just sort of like watching a shadow, so it was hard to know exactly what she was doing. But the idea of anybody hanging out of a helicopter, dangling over Niagara Falls, is nuts.”
Diandra Ruiz, of New Jersey, said she was wondering what was going on when she saw Erendira dangling from the helicopter.
“I had no idea what was going on and then, lo and behold, I found out she was holding on with her teeth and gliding over, which is a little scary.”