Interview with AJ Hackett: Inventor of bungy jumping?

Dec 04, 2017 BY Mark Pawlak

For some it’s a rite of passage, for others it’s a test of courage. But as we find out on this Interview with AJ Hackett, was not the ‘inventor of bungy jumping’ – he was just the first to commercialise it.

Interview with AJ Hackett: Inventor of bungy jumping? Nevis Highwire Queenstown. Flickr image by Steve AM

It all started back in 1988 when AJ and Henry van Asch began to challenge people and gravity with their first leaps in Queenstown, New Zealand. This swiftly lead to a commercial operation from which grew the AJ Hackett business.

In many ways bungy is the poster boy of extreme sports and remains perhaps the most accessible high speed adrenaline rush around. You don’t need any training to jump – just the courage to take the leap.

Interview with AJ Hackett

But that’s just what I think. For a more accurate look at bungy, here’s an interview with AJ Hackett telling us in his own words how it all came about. We’ve also included a video which is well worth a watch.

How many people have done an AJ Hackett jump?

Over 2.5 million people have jumped with us worldwide over the last 24 years. (Figure correct as of May 2013)

Interview with AJ Hackett: Inventor of bungy jumping? Ledge queenstown Flickr image by clobocopy

Having given the world an extreme activity that requires no special skills or training, how does it feel to have been responsible for the scariest but most exhilarating moment of so many people’s lives?

The feeling is wonderful! I never intended bungy jumping to be a public activity when we first started jumping. Now I look back I’m humbled by all the great feedback, letters and happy people I see all over the world. For some people bungy jumping really builds confidence and helps overcome phobias.

Have you found that some cultures embrace bungy jumping more than others?

The funny thing is all cultures embrace bungy jumping and there is no one particular culture that embraces it more than others.

A good example of this is in China where we launched the world’s highest bungy jump (233m) in Macau. We felt that most of our customers would be Western tourists heading through Hong Kong. To our surprise, Chinese people have taken to bungy jumping and are our largest market.

Is there a limit to a bungy height? And what is the highest jump you have done?

There is a limit to bungy jumping height, however we have not reached this yet and do not know exactly where this point is. The height of a bungy jump really needs to be measured in 2 ways. First the height of the jump above the ground and the second is the stretch of the cord.

For example, many of the height records from helicopters or hot air balloons have been done with bungy cords that stretch less than much lower jumps. I have always been interested in stretching the bungy cord as far as we can in relation to the space we have available between the jump platform and the ground.

So although I have jumped hundreds of meters in the air from helicopters, the highest land based bridge jump I have done is from the Royal Gorge in Colorado from a height of 1053ft.

Do you still regularly bungy? And how many jumps have you done?

Yes I love to bungy jump and have no idea how many I have done, but it would be somewhere well over 1000 jumps.

What other extreme activities and sports do you regularly participate in?

I love to ski, snowboard and surf. I guess the way I play golf could be called extreme as well!

This interview with AJ Hackett was originally published in May 2013. But Bungy is still going strong, as is the AJ Hackett business so we thought our visitors would enjoy reading it again. For more information check out the AJ Hackett Bungy website.

Asia, China, Macau, New Zealand, Oceania, Queenstown, South Island
Bungee Jumping
AJ Hackett Bungy Jump

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