Bungee has been stretching the minds of people since 1986. From the very moment when a pair of New Zealanders AJ Hackett and Chris Sigglekow set off in pursuit of adrenaline in the Pacific islands.
According to existing legend, something similar to Bungy appeared on the island of Pentecost in the Pacific Ocean many centuries ago. The world owed its appearance to the jealous war of Tamale and his wife.
According to legend, during another family quarrel, a woman, running from an angry husband, climbed a tall tree. But Tamale was not about to lose his wife and climbed after her. Then the wife bound her legs with a vine and jumped. The husband, not noticing the vines that wrapped her legs, kicked at her. Only now he fell to his death, and his wife, thanks to her ingenuity, remained alive.
Since then, every spring the inhabitants of the island of Pentecost conduct a ritual of nakedness - they jump from high wooden platforms with ropes tied to their ankles. With this ritual they honor the memory of Tamale. When the young builder from Auckland, AJ Hackett, saw the fearless young natives literally diving into the abyss, he first came up with the idea of a Bungy.
The inspiration for making the first Bungy came from AJ and his friend Chris Sigglekow after they watched a video in which several young Britons from the University of Oxford Dangerous Sports Club made a modern version of the jump. Instead of wooden towers, there was the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Chris was so inspired by these jumps that he immediately tried to make his Bungy from parachute lines and jump from the Pelorus Bridge in Marlborough, New Zealand. This first attempt, however, was unsuccessful.
Together, Hackett and Sigglekow began to think about how to better implement the idea that stuck in their heads. They decided that it was necessary to first tackle security issues - and only then try to jump again.
Therefore they contacted the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, where the mathematical formula of rubber suitable for bungee rope was developed.
“All we had to know was the height of the bridge that we were jumping from, divide it by four, less a couple of metres for the length of the person and the harness webbing attachment to the bungy, and that would be the length of the cord.”
“Chris had to jump first. We fastened the rope to the parachute belts to which the slings are usually fastened, and he stepped off the bridge. He flew almost to the water, flew back almost to the bridge - everything turned out fine! - recalls AJ. - Chris unhooked the belts and sailed out of the river, rejoicing with happiness. My turn came. I jumped, experiencing the same enthusiasm. Then, in complete euphoria, we took another jump. It became clear that all the calculations worked.”
And already the next weekend, AJ and Chris, having invited a couple of friends with them - Henry Van Ashe and Martin Jones - went to Hamilton, where they jumped from a bridge 10 meters higher than the first. Then there was the 44-meter bridge in Auckland Harbor, the 80-meter bridge on the North Island. All these jumps went unnoticed by the authorities.
AJ, Henry, and Martin prepared to travel to Europe as part of the New Zealand ski downhill team. But they were suddenly caught red-handed. Just before boarding a plane to France, friends decided to jump off the bridge again in Auckland's harbor to try out the new fastening system developed by AJ. She was allowed to do without parachute belts: a bungy rope was attached to the legs. And the jump itself had to be done not with your feet, but with your head down.
Henry and Martin managed to try a new way of flying, but when AJ and Chris were ready to jump, a police boat appeared below them. The police ordered their friends to stop, but, realizing that they were caught anyway, they jumped. After this incident, police turned to New Zealand television with a request to film a special report. The transfer was to warn people from such activities. But thanks to her, everyone learned about Bungy jumping.
AJ flew to France not only to do downhill skiing - he decided to promote the idea of bungy in Europe, where he jumped from the 147-meter bridge Pont de la Cai using a foot mount system.
Hackett also turned to French scientists to find out how the bungy rope behaves at temperatures well below zero. “I had a dream to jump from the ski lift into the snow and go downhill skiing. Such a romantic vision,” says AJ. Upon learning that this was possible, he persuaded the leadership of the French ski resort of Tignes - and jumped upside down from the cable car cabin from a height of 91 meters into deep snow at minus 20 degrees.
“When we first arrived in Paris and drove past the Eiffel Tower, I thought: what a beautiful building! I wish I could jump from here,” recalls Hackett.
“When we first arrived in Paris and drove past the Eiffel Tower, I thought: what a beautiful building! I wish I could jump from here,” recalls Hackett. I measured the height of the tower, figured out how to organize the jump, found out where the surveillance cameras we’re, how the security worked, and so on. One evening, just before the tower was closed, our large company headed there. We had ropes, equipment, a camera and sleeping bags in our backpacks. And the bungees were carried by the girls under their dresses. Soon, the guards went home, and we settled for the night. In the morning we woke up later than we expected. We set up the equipment in a hurry. Finally, everything was ready. In the end, I made the perfect jump - and was happy that I did it. Gendarmes immediately ran from everywhere, they could not understand what was happening at all. Well, the rest is history. ”
AJ's stunt has attracted the attention of media around the world. One could only dream of the best advertising. Bungy jumping instantly became the object of interest of so many people in different parts of the world.
Hackett returned to New Zealand with the intention of promoting bungy so that this type of outdoor activity could be used in feature film plots and scripts for commercials. He believed that a direct bungy jumping campaign for the public would be too complicated.
In the same year, Hackett first proposed to give the thrill of such an experience to everyone. In March 1988, he installed the world's first bungy jumping site in the New Zealand town of Okahun near Lake Tapo.
“Having made my first jump, I immediately realized: we are on the way to something incredible,” says AJ. - And I thought that everyone should feel it. We have helped many of our friends, both men and women, jump in order to compare their reaction with ours. And our expectations were met.”
AJ set his sights on the historic Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown as his ideal location for bungy jumping – and so on November 12, 1988, the first year-round commercial operation was launched. On that day, 28 people paid $75 each to jump off the 43m-high bridge with a bungy cord attached to their ankles.
The Kawarau Bridge operation wasn’t without its challenges – AJ and Henry van Asch, who became business partners, needed to raise money and get permission to restore the old bridge and build improvements, including the visitors’ platform, walkways and reception building.
The launch of the Kawarau Bungy site has been hailed as the birthplace of adventure tourism in New Zealand and now attracts more than 500,000 people each year.
With the goal of making bungy jumping an absolutely safe outdoor activity, AJ and Henry developed the Code of Practice, which formed the basis for the Bungy Jumping Standard in New Zealand and Australia. The standard is still used worldwide in the high-rise attraction industry.
The team continued to search and equip ever higher places for exciting jumps. In August 1990, commercial sites were opened in French Normandy and Australian Cairns. In Cairns, for the first time in the world, a special tower was built for bungy jumping.
After that, his quest to discover bigger, more exciting jumping places began.
He opened commercial bungy operations in Normandie, France, on August 9, 1990, and Cairns, Australia, on August 11, 1990. The Cairns Bungy site was the first purpose-built bungy tower in the world.
In the meantime, AJ Hackett International has entered into an international partnership with several inventors of adrenaline entertainment, including Skype Jump.
Skyjump — A device for lowering buildings with a controlled fall rate. It is often used by movie studios when shooting scenes of the fall of people from high-rise buildings.
“We continue to spread throughout the planet, expanding at the same time a set of active forms of recreation and entertainment - everything that is “spinning,” says AJ Hackett. “We give each person the opportunity to meet their personal challenge and, ‘by clicking on the internal buttons,’ overcome themselves and space.”