Bungee Jumping Comes of Age

Determined daredevils once made their madcap leaps in the dead of night to avoid authorities. Now in parts of the U.S. they leap with impunity from hot-air balloons and 140-ft.-high towers.

In the still, blue morning air 150 ft. above the town of Fort Lupton, Colo., two men float in a hot-air balloon. One lashes a strong rubber cord to the midsection of the other, Fred Kaemerer, 23, a Denver engineer, who grimaces like a condemned man. When the countdown rings out -- "Three! Two! One!" -- Kaemerer swan-dives headfirst over the edge of the gondola. Although it lasts only seconds, the 60 m.p.h. plunge seems to take forever. But the real kick is yet to come. Just as Kaemerer hurtles to within a few feet of the earth and a terrifying...

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