Bungee jumping is an adventurous sport where the participant jumps from a great height while he is connected to a large rubber rope. The jump can be made from the top of a tall building, bridge or crane. To bring in more adrenalin rush, jump can be made from a moving object like helicopter or a hot air balloon.
Bungee word was developed in 1930, which meant rubber eraser. The idea originated from dwellers of the Pentecost Island, who used to tie vines to their ankles and jumped from tall wooden platforms. The vine was substituted by elastic cord. Members of the Dangerous Sports club made the first official bungee jumping on April 1, 1979 from the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol. Initially they were arrested, but later on they appeared on television and jumped from many places including hot air balloon and mobile cranes, in 1982.
A J Hackett of New Zealand did the first commercial bungee jumping in 1986, from Auckland’s Greenhithe Bridge. After that he made numerous jumps from famous monuments like the Eiffel Tower. The first bungee jumping site was laid in Queenstown, New Zealand, on the Kawarau Bridge.
The rubber rope absorbs the complete energy of the fall and when the rope snaps back, the jumper flies in the upward direction. The process of oscillation continues until all energy is utilized. The rubber rope is covered with cloth and has hooks on both the end. It is a specially designed braided shock cord. A tough outer cover encloses many latex strands. The function of the tough outer cover is to provide durability. Some consider using unbraided cords without the tough outer cover, which delivers a longer and softer bounce. Commercial operators are forced to use body harness to ensure safety in case of accidents.
Variations to traditionally bungee jumping are catapult, twin tower, bungee running and bungee trampoline. In catapult, the jumper is placed on the ground and the cord is stretched, usually with the help of a crane, and then the jumper is released and he goes shooting up in the air. Twin towers employs two oblique cords. Bungee running, as the name suggests involves running and not jumping. The rope is attached to the participant and he runs as far as possible on an inflatable surface. The point maximum reached is marked with the help of a Velcro-backed marker, after which the runner gets pulled back to his initial position. Two or more people are involved in this and it is more like a running competition. Bungee Trampoline has a mix of bungee and trampolining. The body is fitted into a harness attached to a trampoline, which in turn is attached to a bungee. When the participant begins to jump he goes higher than a normal trampoline would.
Bungee jumping has been incorporated in many movies and video albums. The most famous of all is the James Bond movie, Golden Eye, which was released in 1995. The movie opens with Bond jumping from a dam in Russia. The jump was no special effect and was genuine.
Like other sports, bungee jumping has its share of possible injuries. The reason for most of them is human error, along with failure of safety harness, miscalculation of elasticity of the rope and improper connection of the cord. Possible injuries are body entangling with the rope, rope burn, dislocations, eye trauma, uterine prolapsed, back injury, pinched fingers and bruises. Jumper’s age, weight, experience, and location should be reviewed before the jump, as a safety measure.