Gettysburg-based Haverfield Aviation Inc. was commissioned by the high-wire artist to fly the lead rope over the falls separating the United States and Canada. Once the rope was in place, crews were able to pull across the two-inch steel cable for the historic stunt.
Pilot Dan Arenson told The (Hanover) Evening Sun ( http://bit.ly/Lv2ixN) that when he got the call about the project he thought a power line was under discussion, but found out that the project was to allow a daredevil to walk 200 feet above the rushing water.
"I was like, 'Wow, this is pretty cool," said Arenson. "But I thought to myself, it's not going to be easy."
Even for a company used to navigating difficult terrain, a waterfall is an unusual environment, he said.
"The only thing that really caused any challenge was the moving water. It gives you a false sensation," he said. "You have to be careful not to focus on it."
The company, which was originally headquartered in Miami but moved to the Gettysburg area about 15 years ago after a merger with Agrotors Inc., is installs, repairs, and monitors lines in areas that trucks cannot reach.
"We're the only guys that can get in over wetlands and river crossings and mountains and all those inaccessible areas," company spokesman Scott Cook added.
Wallenda first commissioned an Ontario firm to connect the lead rope, but found last week that the company lacked Federal Aviation Administration permits for such work. So he went to Haverfield, which set to work coordinating the flight between Canadian and U.S. authorities. Arenson said it can often take up to three weeks to secure permits, but Haverfield gained approval in about a week.
Arenson then flew a Hughes 500 helicopter several hundred feet above the water to establish the lead rope, and crews were then able to pull across the 7-ton steel cable, which would have been far too heavy for the helicopter to carry.
Arenson said he was excited to have been a part of the performance.
"It's definitely the type of thing you tell to your grandkids someday," he said.
Information from: The Evening Sun, http://www.eveningsun.com