Bungee jumping is a recreational sport which involves jumping off from an elevated platform while tied with a big elastic cord. The platform may usually be a fixed object, like any building, tower or bridge, or it may as well be a moving object too, like a hot air balloon or even a helicopter. One end of the elastic cord is tied with the jumper’s body while the other one with the platform. The elastic cord is designed in such a way that it stretches during the jumper’s fall and then rebound repeatedly until all the energy from free fall washed-out. The thrill of this dangerous sport which is coming from the free-fall as much as rebound, made over 2 million people so far to perform the activity since its inception in 1955.
The elastic cord can be attached with the jumper in various ways such as in case of body harness, the arms and legs are free to move, and the jumper can spin and flip easily. While in the case of leg harnesses, it is said to be more enjoyable and gives a real feeling of flying.
The most important equipment for bungee jumping is the elastic cord, which is a factory-produced braided shock cord, consisting of many latex strands encompassed in a tough outer cover. The latex is used to give the bounce on free fall, and the braided cover enables significant durability benefits. Except the cord, there are several other equipment such as the harnesses, various gears and the crane cages.
A short history of bungee jumping
Tracking back to the history, the first modern bungee jump was made on April 1979 from the 250-foot tall Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, England by the members of Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club. However, the jumpers got arrested shortly thereafter, but the sport continued with jumps in the US off the Golden Gate and Royal Gorge bridges, the latter being sponsored by and televised on the American program dispersing the concept globally. By 1982, they started to jump off from mobile cranes and hot air balloons as well.
Commercial bungee jumping began in 1986 with A J Hackett, a New Zealander, who completed his first jump from Auckland’s Greenhithe Bridge. In the subsequent years, Hackett showcased a number of jumps from bridges besides other structures including the Eiffel Tower, developing a public interest in the sport besides opening the world’s foremost permanent commercial bungee site – the Kawarau Bridge Bungee at Queenstown in the South Island of New Zealand. Hackett now continues to be one of the largest commercial operators, with interests in several other countries.
In spite of the intrinsic danger of jumping off a great height, numerous million triumphant jumps took place from 1980 onwards. Like any other sports, injuries are possible in bungee jumping but sometimes an improper safety may result even jumper’s death. The safety depends on how well the bungee jumping equipment are maintained and how well the safety factors such as double checking the length calculations as well as fittings of the cord before each jump, is overseen. The major cause of the death or critical injuries is generally due to the equipment failure or miscalculation of the cord length during the sport.
There are also some serious health risks which are associated despite all safety measures. One such danger of the sport for women, is risk of uterine prolapse. Due to the speed and pressure that the body faces during the jump, it may result the uterus to slide from its normal position. Eye trauma is also the most frequently reported complication in bungee jumping which may even result in permanent loss of vision. The chances of whiplash injuries are also there as the jumper is jolted on the bungee cord and a very serious injury can also occur if the jumper’s neck or body gets entangled in the cord.
The highest bungee jump
The highest bungee jump ever made was from the Royal Gorge Bridge, Colorado, USA at a height of 1053 feet (321 m) during 2005 and 2007 Go Fast games. Among the currently available commercial bungee jump destinations, the Macau Tower, China with a height of 233 meters or 764 feet, is considered the tallest destination for bungee jumpers.