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Erendira Wallenda wows Falls visitors with aerial stunt, new record

After weeks of preparation and days of local media buildup, Erendira Wallenda finally took her flight over Niagara Falls Thursday morning. When it was done, she said her record-setting stunt went by "too fast."

Mrs. Wallenda successfully hung from a helicopter by her teeth at an estimated 300 feet above the base of Horseshoe Falls, breaking the record her husband Nik set in Branson, Missouri in 2011. The stunt in Niagara Falls came on the fifth anniversary of Nik Wallenda's successful high-wire walk over the falls and gorge.

She sat on a lyra, or ring, as the helicopter departed from atop the Seneca Niagara Casino parking garage. The chopper carried her to the Horseshoe Falls, where she began a series of moves within her ring. After several minutes, including a slow flyby during which Mrs. Wallenda waved to spectators below, the helicopter returned to the casino. 

Upon the conclusion of the flight, the Wallendas spoke about the stunt and the impact they hope it leaves.

"It was absolutely beautiful," said Mrs. Wallenda, when asked to describe the feeling of being above the falls. "But there's something about... this feeling that comes over me when I touch whatever it is on my lyra. I feel like that's where God tells me 'this is what I made you for.'"

In addition to hanging by her teeth, Mrs. Wallenda performed other stunts from her lyra, or ring, including hanging from it by her feet.

WBFO's Michael Mroziak interviews Erendira and Nik Wallenda following Mrs. Wallenda's successful aerial stunt over Niagara Falls Thursday morning.

While the stunt was billed as a made-for-television event, hundreds of people watching from Terrapin Point were awestruck by what was happening above them. Some tourists, including Sally and Shawn Sexton of Virginia, weren't aware about the stunt until they arrived Thursday morning.

"Just the thrill of actually seeing her, knowing she was that high up with the helicopter, all the wind from that and then holding by her teeth, I just can’t describe it. It’s just great," Sally Sexton said. 

Others, including three girls visiting from Texas, came to Terrapin Point specifically to see the stunt.

"What I just saw was amazing. She hovered over by the helicopter, she practically beat her husband at it," said Haley Shirley. 

"I thought it was pretty awesome because I don’t think I could do that," said Alaina Raleeh.

But inspiration is among the motivators for the Wallendas. That, and bringing valuable publicity to Niagara Falls, New York.

Their next plans are to travel with the Big Apple Circus as headliners.

"It will open up in New York City on October 26," Nik Wallenda said. "We'll be there for two and a half months in Lincoln Center, where our passion is."

First, though, the Wallendas were scheduled to travel to Parris Island, South Carolina. On Friday morning, their son will graduate from boot camp and officially become a United States Marine.

Dominic LoVallo contributed to this report.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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