Erendira Wallenda hangs from a helicopter as she performs before the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. Five years after Nik Wallenda walked over Niagara Falls on a high wire, his trapeze-artist wife is planning to dangle by her teeth from a helicopter as it flies over the falls. (CANADIAN PRESS File photo)

Wallenda discusses hanging by her teeth over Niagara Falls

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — The aerialist wife of daredevil Nik Wallenda will perform a series of manoeuvres — including hanging by her teeth and toes — while on a hoop suspended from a helicopter above Niagara Falls in a stunt that will break a record set by her husband, the family said Wednesday.

Erendira and Nik Wallenda said they are excited to again showcase Niagara Falls on the fifth anniversary of Nik Wallenda’s televised tightrope walk over the brink. The stunt is planned for Thursday morning.

“She’s a ballerina in the air,” Nik Wallenda said during a news conference with his wife at the Seneca Niagara Casino.

Erendira Wallenda will be tethered by her waist to comply with a state law that requires safety harnesses for performers more than six metres in the air, Nik Wallenda said, but the cable won’t aide her performance.

“It is just as much of a challenge, in fact more of a challenge often, because you’re worried you’re going to get tangled up in it,” he said.

Like her husband, Erendira Vazquez Wallenda traces her daredevil roots back generations. There are eight generations of performers on her mother’s side who have been part of the third-oldest circus in Australia, she said, and seven generations on her father’s side, which tours in Mexico City.

The idea for Erendira’s stunt emerged as the Wallendas were discussing how to maintain their connection with Niagara Falls, where they one day hope to open a Wallenda-themed entertainment centre. Nik Wallenda thought the only way to top his own stunt was to redo it without the tether that he had objected to wearing in 2012. That seemed unlikely.

“Remember that world record that you set years ago hanging by your teeth under a helicopter about 200 feet (60 metres) above the ground?” Nik Wallenda recalled his wife saying. “Well, why don’t you allow me to do it 300 feet (91 metres) above the falls?”

“I was like, ‘Absolutely. That’s amazing. That’s awesome,’” he said.

The Niagara County legislature last month approved spending $35,000 for the act.

Wallenda hung on by his teeth 76 metres above Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo., in 2011. Erendira plans to break the height record by performing 91 to 106 metres in the air.

The altitude will take the mother of three above the mist and wind of the roaring falls.

“What is against her,” Nik Wallenda said, “is that your mind — the higher you are, the harder it is to let go and hang on by your teeth.”

Erendira Wallenda said her training in the rain and mist of Florida, where they live, helped prepare her for the conditions expected on Thursday. She said her dentist made her a mouth guard that she will wear, but she will use her jaw muscles to avoid falling.

“Obviously, my dentist doesn’t want me to do this for the rest of my life,” she said.

“Our dentist is a very understanding person,” her husband added.

Five members of the Wallenda circus troupe fell from a high-wire in Sarasota, Fla., in February while practising an eight-person pyramid. Everyone survived.

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