Aerialist Erendira Wallenda saw her husband walk on a tight-rope across Niagara Falls five years ago, to the day, and wondered what that experience might feel like. Today, she knows.

Wallenda performed a routine 300 feet above Niagara Falls, dangling from a helicopter, held steady in blistering winds. During her performance, Wallenda broke the record for highest ‘Iron Jaw’ hold, in which the performer dangles from her teeth. The previous record of 250 feet was held by her husband, which he set six years ago, dangling over a Missouri theme park.

The aerialist and her husband Nik Wallenda took off in the Airbus E355 Eurocopter at 8:35 a.m. on Thursday morning. After performing several stunts set to music, the copter and its passengers were back on the ground before 9 a.m.

Wallenda dangled from her teeth twice – the first time, for 10 seconds, and the second time, for five, according to the Buffalo News. During the performance, she also dangled from her knees, toes, and hands.

In accordance with New York State labor laws, Wallenda was attached to harness during the routine. While she didn’t need it, a fall from that height would almost certainly mean death.

“This is what I’ve done my entire life,” Wallenda said in a press conference after the stunt. “I started performing when I was nine-years-old, so once I looked up and saw my husband smiling at me and he’s like, ‘You got this, babe,’ I was like, ‘Yeah, you know what? That’s right.'”

“Then I was able to relax and take it all in,” she added.

Wallenda and her husband both come from a long line of aerialists and circus performers. In fact, the two met while watching their parents perform. Nik was 3-years-old and Erendira was 3-months-old. When Erendira turned 18, the two daredevils got married.

The ‘Iron Jaw’ hold was once a staple of Nik’s grandparents act – his grandfather would ride a bicycle on a tight rope while his grandmother would dangle below, biting down on a folded leather belt.

For the sake of the performer’s teeth, the stunt has evolved over the years and now the couple uses custom made mouthpieces while performing. The mouthpiece Wallenda used Thursday morning sat in full view on top of the podium, from which she spoke to the press.

Although she broke her husband’s record, the couple’s competition is as friendly as could be.

“She had a huge grin on her face the whole time,” Nik Wallenda said. “Here is the new world record holder, my beautiful wife, Erendira Wallenda.”

Later in the press conference, the excited performer noted, “I really did marry my best friend. And not too many people can say they married someone with the same passions that they have.”

While the couple’s three children aren’t expected to dive into the family business, another performance may not be too far off.

Joked the husband, “In five more years I’m going to hang by one tooth, 800 feet above the falls.”


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