The individual responsible for the first modern bungee jump, done in formal attire with a top hat, tails, and 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, including three companions, jumped off a bridge measuring 245ft (76m) in Bristol while attached to bungee cords following a hang-gliding excursion. They were pulled back up by their friends and subsequently taken into custody by law enforcement for causing a disturbance. Each person was fined £100 for their actions.
Kirke was motivated to do the bungee jump after witnessing the land-diving ceremony performed in Vanuatu, located in the South Pacific.
His loved ones characterized him as a “wild soul”. They stated, “He possessed, and required, a strong determination, led by example and ventured into uncharted territory. He will be greatly missed.”
According to his family, Kirke was known for his kind and giving personality. He had friendships in over 40 countries and enjoyed a glass of wine. He was content with the life he lived and had no desire for it to be any different.
Following the 1979 incident, where bungee jumping from suspension bridges was prohibited by regulations, the Dangerous Sports Club popularized the activity worldwide by performing jumps from various structures such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge in Colorado. By 1982, the club’s members were even jumping from mobile cranes and hot air balloons.
Kirke described his jump from Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s 150-year-old structure as a truly blissful experience. He also expressed that the true satisfaction came from bringing joy to people he may never meet through bungee jumping. He felt fulfilled knowing he was able to provide them with a fun experience.
In 2000, Kirke jumped off the same bridge for the sport’s 21st anniversary.
The original members of the Dangerous Sports Club were Chris Baker, Kirke and Ed Hulton. Inspired by their work, AJ Hackett developed the sport from 1988 and his home country of New Zealand became its unofficial home.
Kirke continued to pursue the development of Microlighting and other adrenaline-fueled activities. In 1986, he attempted to fly across the Channel while attached to a formation of helium balloons shaped like a kangaroo. This action led to him facing legal charges for flying without a valid pilot’s license.
He was previously discharged from an airplane catapult on a cliff in Ireland, resulting in three spinal fractures.