David Kirke, a flamboyant British thrill-seeker who performed — and, more important, survived — what is widely acknowledged as the first modern bungee jump, died on Oct. 21 at his home in Oxford. He was 78.

His death was confirmed by his brother Hugh Potter, who said no cause had been determined.

Mr. Kirke, an irrepressible daredevil and prankster, helped found the Dangerous Sports Club at the University of Oxford in the late 1970s. He inadvertently led this tiny band of eccentrics, plucked from the upper rungs of British society, into a historic plunge off the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, England, on April Fools’ Day in 1979.

Inspiration came in part from a rite-of-passage ritual on the South Pacific island country Vanuatu known as land diving, in which young men leap from high towers, using vines to break their fall. Mr. Kirke opted for an elastic rope used by the military to help fighter jets land on aircraft carriers.

“We hadn’t tested it or anything like that,” Mr. Kirke said in a 2019 interview with the news site BristolLive. “We were called the Dangerous Sports Club, and testing it first wouldn’t have been particularly dangerous.”

Clad in a top hat and tails, with a bottle of Champagne in hand, Mr. Kirke, who was nursing a hangover from an all-night party, was the first to take the plunge on that fateful day. The other jumpers — Alan Weston, Tim Hunt and Simon Keeling — “waited to see what would happen to me,” Mr. Kirke said in a 2019 interview with ITV News. “When I started bouncing up again, they all jumped.”

Police promptly arrested the jumpers, charged them with breach of peace and briefly tossed them behind bars before letting them off with a small fine. Jail was hardly a traumatic experience, Mr. Kirke told ITV: “They were the only police force I’ve ever known to bring half-empty bottles of red wine, from the party, in a brown paper bag and give it to us in prison.”

Little did they know that their playful prank would inspire a popular pastime around the world. A video of a plunge from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco by members of the club in the 1980s inspired a New Zealander named A.J. Hackett to develop controlled methods for bungee (alternately spelled bungy) jumping and build a thriving business that popularized the sport.

Fortune, however, was not the point for Mr. Kirke, a writer by trade whose jobs included ghostwriting a newspaper column for a politician. Instead, he would find fame with a lifetime of extravagant stunts — each seemingly more outlandish than the last.

David Kirke was born David Antony Christopher Potter on Sept. 26, 1945, in the village of Shropshire, in the West Midlands of England. He was the eldest of seven children of Arnold Potter, a schoolmaster, and Fraye (Kirke) Potter, a concert pianist from an illustrious military family. For reasons that remain unclear, he adopted his mother’s maiden name as his surname while studying at Oxford.

Complete information about his survivors was not immediately available.

While not strictly upper class by British standards, the Potters managed a more than comfortable existence. As Vanity Fair noted in a 2013 feature article, “The family wintered in Switzerland and summered in France, employed 15 servants and drove around in a vintage Rolls-Royce — all at the last moment of British history when it was possible to enjoy such luxuries and still be considered middle class.”

In 1964, Mr. Kirke enrolled in Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he studied psychology and philosophy. After graduating, he went to work for the publisher Calder & Boyars in London and edited a poetry journal.

His life took a tragic turn, his brother said in an email, when his girlfriend was run over and killed by a bus. Mr. Kirke quit his job and returned to the city of Oxford, where he fell in with a particularly colorful crowd.

The idea for the club arose, Vanity Fair reported, on an adventure-seeking trip with a friend, Edward Hulton, to the Swiss Alps, where they met a British department-store scion named Chris Baker, who was dabbling with hang gliders. Mr. Kirke cajoled Mr. Baker into letting him take a spin on the contraption, and after his exhilarating flight the men began musing over drinks about starting a club to explore new daredevil sports.

“What we hated was the way that formal sports had all these little, important bourgeois instructors saying, ‘You’ve got to get through five-part exams to do this,’” Mr. Kirke told the magazine.

Straddling the line between danger sports and performance art, his stunts included steering a carousel horse down a ski slope in the Swiss Alps; piloting an inflatable kangaroo suspended by balloons over the English Channel; skateboarding among the running bulls of Pamplona, Spain; and arranging a sit-down meal on the rim of an erupting volcano on the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent.

While his initial jump in Bristol made him famous, Mr. Kirke had little time to ponder questions of posterity. As he tipped off the bridge, he told BristolLive, “The main thing going through my mind was ‘Whoooppeeee.’”

Tourist survives 10 story high bungee jump after his cord snaps in Thailand  (video)

A man has managed to survive after his cord snapped while he was bungee jumping in Thailand.


Footage of the terrifying ordeal went viral on Wednesday, March 22 after the 39-year-old tourist from Hong Kong went public with his story.

The tourist, who asked to use only his first name Mike to avoid online harassment, took a dive off of a 10-story-high podium in the town of Pattaya while on holiday in January this year.

Unfortunately the cord holding his body cut, fortunately, the jump was made over a body of water. The bungee rope snapped milliseconds before Mike neared the bottom of his jump, slamming him into the water below.


Tourist survives 10 story high bungee jump after his cord snaps in Thailand  (video)


“I landed on my left side so the injuries were more serious there,” Mike told CNN, recounting how he was left covered in bruises. “It was as if someone just beat me up real bad.”


The incident occured at the Changthai Thappraya Safari and Adventure Park.

Located in the northwest of Pattaya, the amusement park offers activities ranging from ziplines to live-round shooting.

Mike said he originally went to the park to try out the firing range, but decided to do a bungee jump after his friends dared him.

“It was really high so I closed my eyes. I planned to open my eyes again when I bounced back up,” said Mike. “I realized the cord had snapped when I opened my eyes and I was surrounded by water.”

He managed to resurface and swim despite his feet being tied together by the lower half of the snapped bungee cord.

“If the person doesn’t know how to swim, he or she will be in big trouble,” he said.

Mike said the park refunded the cost of his jump and paid for x-ray and ultrasound scans in Thailand.

Nithit Intim, founder of the park, said;


“After the cord was broken, our staff got him [mike] out of the water immediately, and asked him if he was okay,” he told CNN. “He [Mike] said he felt bruised. So we took him to the hospital.”


Intim said Mike had signed a liability waiver before making the jump.

“Our staff explained that if any mishap happens or any accident takes place, our company will compensate medical bills. But the client can’t demand for compensation on other kind of expenses,” Intim said.

He added that the park would be willing to pay any further direct medical expenses in Hong Kong if receipts were provided.

Watch the video below







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