Bungee jumping is an extreme sport in which a person jumps off a tall structure, which could be a building, but most often it is a high bridge. A long rubber cord is wrapped around the feet and attached to the structure. When the person jumps, the cord stretches to its full length and keeps the person from actually falling to the ground.
Originally the word bungee referred to an easer made of rubber. Then it became known as an elastic strap and was spelled bungy. The sport developed after a film of land divers in Venezuela was shown in the 1950’s. In this BBC film, young men from Pentecost Island tied strong vines around their legs and jumped from tall wooden platforms. This was a ritual on the island in which the men tested their strength.
However, the first official bungee jump was not made for about thirty years on April 1, 1979. The men that performed this jump from the 250-ft high Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, England were part of a club called the Dangerous Sport Club. Even though the jumpers were arrested. The jump had been televised and it led to the beginning of a new extreme sport.
It was a New Zealander, A. J. Hackett, who first commercialized bungee jumping. He made his first jump from the Greenwithe Bridge in Auckland in 1986 and repeatedly made jumps in the years that followed, such as from the Eiffel Tower. These jumps generated so much interest in bungee jumping that commercial sites were developed, especially in Australia and New Zealand.
The main equipment you need to have for this sport is an elastic braided shock cord. Shorter versions of this bungee cord are used in industry to help bind large packages together. Some jumpers use unbraided cords with the latex exposed. There are also variations in jumps, with having the cord attached to only one ankle instead of both. Retrieving the jumper depends on the location. Jumping from a bridge requires the use of a boat to help disconnect the cord and lower the jumper to the boat. Sometimes, cranes have had to retrieve jumpers from high buildings.
The highest bungee jump was off the Bloukrans River Bridge in South Africa, which is a height of 710 feet.