Wednesday, February 28, 2007


It will be the ultimate bungee jump — a terrifying 4,920ft free fall from a helicopter, the equivalent of plunging nearly 30 times the height of Nelson's Column.

A J Hackett, the New Zealand adventurer who pioneered bungee jumping and introduced the extreme sport to millions has announced plans for his most audacious stunt yet.

The 48-year-old plans to launch himself out of a helicopter attached to an elastic cord over Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, later this year.

If successful, the stunt will double the existing record for the world's highest bungee jump.

Mr Hackett admitted to feeling nervous about the world record attempt. "I do get a bit scared sometimes but I'm still able to split the emotion from the logic," he told ABC radio yesterday.

The venture has been enabled by breakthroughs in bungee cord technology.

"Last December we opened the world's highest bungee site in Macau," said Mr Hackett, who was in Australia to promote a new biography.

"There we developed this new technology which is a tapered bungee cord, fatter at the top than it is at the bottom. It means you can stretch them a long, long way."With standard cords that you have today you just can't do that because they break. They just get stretched too much at the top."

Modern-day bungee jumping has its roots in an ancient ritual on the island of Pentecost, in the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu, where men dive from wooden towers each year to bless the yam harvest.

The idea was seized on in the 1970s by the Dangerous Sports Club at Oxford University, whose members replaced vines with rubber bands.

Hackett, considered the founder of the modern-day sport, achieved fame when he bungee jumped off the Eiffel Tower in 1986.

He established his first commercial bungee jump operation two years later, since when his company has sent tens of thousands of people hurtling earthwards in New Zealand and other countries.

He said he had no idea the activity would become so popular. "I thought we would just do one-off stunts for movies or television commercials or something like that."

He said the extreme nature of the sport appealed to the "little bit of anarchy" in people, adding: "People need to get out of their comfort zones to actually expand themselves."

No comments: