## AJ Hackett: The Pioneer of Bungee Jumping

**Introduction:**

Bungee jumping, an adrenaline-pumping sport that involves leaping from a high platform while tethered to an elastic cord, has captivated thrill-seekers worldwide. Among the pioneers who played a pivotal role in popularizing this extreme activity is A.J. Hackett, a New Zealander known as the “Father of Bungee Jumping.” This article delves into the life and achievements of AJ Hackett, exploring his contributions to the history and legacy of bungee jumping.

**Early Life and Inspiration:**

AJ Hackett was born on December 17, 1958, in Auckland, New Zealand. Growing up, he was an avid climber and adventure enthusiast. In 1986, Hackett was inspired by a documentary about the land divers of Pentecost Island in Vanuatu, who performed ritual dives from tall towers using vines as a safety rope. This sparked an idea in Hackett’s mind: could a similar concept be applied using modern materials?

**First Bungee Jumps:**

Determined to test his theory, Hackett teamed up with fellow New Zealander Henry van Asch. Together, they developed prototypes of a bungee cord using rubber shock absorbers. On November 12, 1986, Hackett and van Asch made history by performing the first commercially organized bungee jump from the Greenhithe Bridge in Auckland. The jump was a resounding success, attracting immense media attention and paving the way for the birth of a new extreme sport.

**Establishing Bungee Jumping as a Tourism Industry:**

Following the initial jump, Hackett quickly recognized the potential of bungee jumping as a tourism attraction. He established AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand, a company that would become synonymous with the sport. Hackett opened bungee jump sites at various locations in New Zealand and around the world, including the iconic Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge near Queenstown.

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**Safety Innovations:**

Safety has always been paramount in Hackett’s approach to bungee jumping. In the early days, he developed innovative safety systems, including the “ankle tether” and the “dynamic landing system,” which reduced the risk of injuries. Hackett’s rigorous safety protocols and training programs have helped establish bungee jumping as a relatively safe and well-regulated extreme sport.

**Other Adventures and Accomplishments:**

Beyond bungee jumping, Hackett has participated in numerous other adventurous pursuits. He has climbed Mount Everest, set world records for various jumps, and established several adventure tourism companies. In 1997, Hackett became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his contributions to tourism and adventure sports.

**Legacy and Impact:**

AJ Hackett’s pioneering spirit and tireless efforts have made him a legend in the world of bungee jumping. He has popularized the sport, established safety standards, and created a thriving tourism industry. Thanks to his vision and innovation, countless people have experienced the thrill of bungee jumping, pushing their limits and creating unforgettable memories.

**Conclusion:**

AJ Hackett stands as a true pioneer of bungee jumping. His unwavering passion for adrenaline and his commitment to safety have transformed a once-obscure ritual into a global phenomenon. Through his contributions and legacy, Hackett has forever changed the landscape of adventure sports and continues to inspire thrill-seekers worldwide.

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