When they stopped by to support local DQ owner DeLon Mork’s vision to sell 32,000 Blizzard treats for children’s charities a few weeks ago, DSU English professors John Nelson and Deana Hueners-Nelson discovered a rare invitation: “DeLon said they had space for more skydivers on his big jump with the governor, and we were thrilled to accept,” said Nelson. For both professors, it was to be their first jump.
To help drive the Blizzard sales on “Miracle Treat Day”, an annual event in which DQ donates all proceeds to the Children’s Miracle Network, Governor Daugaard had pledged to skydive with Mork. His offer helped spur sales of 38,412 Blizzards and Blizzard coupons, exceeding the day’s goal by an astonishing 6,412 sales.
After clouds prevented their first attempt, a new day was scheduled, and the skydiving event went off without a hitch. First the professional skydivers made a few jumps, then the DSU professors got a turn, and finally Governor Daugaard and Mork made their jumps.
All the new skydivers jumped in tandem, which means they were strapped to one of the professional skydivers. Everyone went through a short training session, too, during which they learned about the importance of “arching”, how to safely climb out of the small Cessna 182, a single engine aircraft, and how their partner in the tandem jump would communicate with them, usually through the use of his hands or feet, to guide them in leaving the plane, free falling, steering the parachute, and landing.
Once the plane took off from the runway at Madison Airport, it took almost 20 minutes to reach the correct altitude – between 9 and 10 thousand feet – before the tandem jumps could take place. Aside from a small scrape on his leg when leaving the plane, something Nelson had to be shown after landing, no doubt because his excitement had eclipsed his pain tolerance, the jumps were perfect and both professors enjoyed themselves immensely. Hueners-Nelson noted how brief the drop was, seeming to pass in only a few seconds. From the ground, the trip appeared to take much longer.
The two professors say they both love the opportunity for adventure and travel, having ventured together to such places as China, Japan, Ireland, Spain, Canada, and widely throughout the United States. They were pleased that, with this adventure, they were able to stay close to home and share it with their friends on the ground.
No word yet on whether the in-flight checklist was rife with freshly-inked editing marks from a mysterious red pen smuggled aboard.