The individual who executed the inaugural modern bungee jump, donning a top hat and tails and clutching a bottle of champagne, has passed away at the age of 78.
On April 1, 1979, David Kirke, a founding member of the Dangerous Sports Club at Oxford University, leapt from the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
Four individuals, accompanied by elastic cords, jumped off a bridge in Bristol that measured 245ft (76m) in height. This occurred after a hang-gliding excursion and the group was pulled back up by their companions. However, they were later apprehended by law enforcement for causing a disturbance and were each fined £100.
Kirke was motivated to do the bungee jump after witnessing the land-diving tradition of Vanuatu in the South Pacific.
His loved ones characterized him as a “free thinker”. They also noted that he possessed a strong will and was unafraid to take charge and venture into uncharted territory. He will be deeply missed.
Kirke’s loved ones informed the BBC that he possessed a kind and giving personality, formed friendships in over 40 countries, relished a glass of wine, and had no desire to alter his way of life.
Following the incident in 1979, which resulted in the prohibition of bungee jumping from suspension bridges under local laws, the Dangerous Sports Club popularized the activity worldwide by executing jumps from various structures, such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge in Colorado. By 1982, members of the club were even jumping from moving cranes and hot air balloons.
Kirke described the experience of jumping from Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s 150-year-old structure as a moment of pure bliss. He also acknowledged that the true satisfaction came from the fact that his bungee jumping had brought joy to individuals he may never come across, and that he had provided them with a enjoyable experience.
In 2000, Kirke participated in a bungee jump from the identical bridge, commemorating the 21st year of the sport’s existence.
Chris Baker, Kirke, and Ed Hulton were the first members of the Dangerous Sports Club. AJ Hackett was influenced by their activities and in 1988, he further developed the sport. New Zealand, Hackett’s birthplace, became the unofficial hub of the sport.
Kirke continued to pursue the development of Microlighting and other high-risk sports. In 1986, he attempted to fly across the Channel while tethered to a group of helium balloons in the shape of a kangaroo. This incident led to his prosecution for flying without a valid pilot’s license.
In the past, he was dismissed from a plane catapult on a cliff in Ireland and suffered three spinal fractures.