Erendira Wallenda said today that her planned stunt Thursday morning – she intends to hang by her teeth beneath a helicopter hovering over Niagara Falls – does not intimidate her.
"I definitely am not going to be freaked out," Wallenda told reporters in Niagara Falls. "You can't do what we do and be freaked out. If you're scared of it, then it becomes dangerous. I respect what I do, but I definitely will be taking in the view. That's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but I'm definitely not fearful."
Her husband, aerialist Nik Wallenda, crossed Niagara Falls on a high wire five years ago.
How long she dangles depends on conditions and how she feels.
For the hanging-by-her-teeth stunt, "Ten to 15 (seconds), maybe 20. I don't know. If I feel real good, maybe 30," she said.
Nik Wallenda said his wife will wear a safety tether in compliance with New York State's labor law, as he did when he performed his high-wire stunt.
Erendira Walllenda, an experienced trapeze artist whose family has performed in circuses for generations, intends to break her husband's world record for hanging by his teeth 200 feet in the air. The plan calls for the helicopter to hover at least 300 feet above the Horseshoe Falls.
State Parks officials said the helicopter will be located near Terrapin Point at the tip of Goat Island. That way, it is expected to avoid Canadian airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday it has approved the flight plan.
The schedules call for the helicopter to take off about 8:30 a.m. from the roof of the Seneca Niagara Casino parking garage and return by 8:45 a.m.
Nik Wallenda will be in the helicopter, but he said he won't be able to communicate with his wife except through hand signals. She will wear headphones and listen to music, to which she has choreographed her routine.
Erendira Wallenda said the stunt will go on regardless of the weather, unless lightning strikes in the vicinity. Nik said the helicopter will fly above the mist of the Falls, so it should be out of tricky wind currents.
Niagara County and the City of Niagara Falls each appropriated $35,000 to help pay for the stunt, while the Seneca Gaming Corp., the lead sponsor, contributed $50,000.
Nik Wallenda said he and his wife will collect a performance fee, but he said most of the money went for insurance and permit fees, as well as hiring the helicopter. He joked that after expenses, he and his wife would be left with "about $5."
John H. Percy Jr., president of Destination Niagara, said the tourism promotion agency has hired professional photographers to ride in the helicopter and send out photos as soon as possible for maximum exposure.
"It's about promoting this region to the world," Nik Wallenda said.