NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) – The countdown continues for Erendira Wallenda’s world-record attempt over Niagara Falls on Thursday. She’ll be suspended from a helicopter 300 feet above the Horseshoe Falls, by her teeth for part of the time.
The helicopter involved in the stunt arrives in Niagara Falls Wednesday afternoon. It will be taking off from the roof of the Seneca Casino parking garage at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
A Rainbow Air, Inc. helicopter will also be taking off from that company’s helipad on Main Street at the same time, to shoot video of the stunt from the air as it happens.
Wednesday morning, Rainbow Air took a News 4 crew up over the Falls, to get a perspective on what Erendira Wallenda will see and hear as she completes here death-defying dangle over the raging water.
For our ride, the Rainbow Air helicopter took our crew up a couple thousand feet for a birds-eye view of the area.
When the Wallendas ride out over the Falls, they’ll stay much lower. It’s hard to imagine what the view would look like from Erendira’s perspective. “Does she look down? Is she looking straight up? Is she going to listen to music? How does she calm herself?” wondered Pat Proctor, Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Rainbow Air, Inc.
When it came to calming down during Wednesday’s flight, News 4’s Katie Alexander says it was surprisingly easy considering how nervous she was before the helicopter took off. She says all of her fears instantly disappeared when she saw the breathtaking aerial view of the Falls.
Rainbow Air pilot Michael Schneider said the view never gets old for him. “That’s a beautiful view,” he said. “My kids tell me that’s my office view.”
Schneider has spent a lot of time in that office since he started flying in 1975, and he knows the Falls well. He says flying there can be different every day.
“You’ve got the winds coming from different directions, and you’ve got the clouds and things like that,” he explained.
“The Horseshoe Falls itself does create its own little wind and air pockets as well, and the pilot always says there’s like a suction involved in there,” Proctor added.
So, pilots obviously have to have steady nerves to fly around the Falls, especially the one that will have a world-famous daredevil hanging from his helicopter.
The stunt marks the five year anniversary of Erendira’s husband, Nik’s, high-wire walk across the Falls, which put the entire area in the spotlight. Local businesses that rely on tourism are looking forward to another boost from this week’s stunt. “I think this is absolutely awesome,” Proctor said. “It’s going to attract a lot of people and who better else to do it than the Wallenda family themselves?”
News 4 will have full team coverage of Mrs. Wallenda’s stunt on Wake Up Thursday morning, beginning at 4:30 a.m.