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In an image provided by the Offfice of Gov. Dennis Daugaard, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard, front, and Dan Spisak, a tandem skydive instructor with Skydive Adventures, float back to the ground during a charity skydive from 10,000 feet at the Madison Municipal Airport in Madison Wednesday. He did it to fulfill a pledge to help raise money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. (Office of Gov. Dennis Daugaard)

Governor Daugaard jumps from plane

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MADISON (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard says his first skydive was an "absolutely incredible" experience and he likely will do it again.


The 60-year-old governor jumped from a plane over Madison on Wednesday night in tandem with an instructor, plunging 10,000 feet before landing safely in a field. He did it to fulfill a pledge to help raise money for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.

"I'm a little bit nervous but not much," he said before the jump, according to KDLT-TV. "I'm mostly excited."

Daugaard had pledged to jump with Madison Dairy Queen owner DeLon Mork if the restaurant sold more than 32,000 Blizzard treats during a recent nationwide fundraiser. The restaurant sold more than 38,000. The jump had been planned for Aug. 15 but low clouds derailed that attempt.

First lady Linda Daugaard joked that she initially said "no do-overs" after the first jump was canceled but that she was proud of her husband.

"I've skydived before, and I wanted him to experience that as well," she told the Argus Leader newspaper.

Gov. Daugaard, who said "second time's the charm," indulged in some gallows humor as his plane pulled away from the crowd to take off.

"Take care of my daughter!" he yelled to his senior adviser, Tony Venhuizen, who is married to Daugaard's daughter Sara.

Under canopy, Daugaard said, his tandem instructor yelled a question.

"He said, 'You want it mild or wild?'" Daugaard said. "I said, 'Well, let's make it interesting.'"

The instructor then pulled on a cord, sending the pair swooping off through the air on a spiraling descent. Daugaard whooped with joy as he came to the ground.

"Oh what a thrill," he said. "The first 5,000 feet flying down was just incredible, just absolutely incredible. And then the parachute jerks, and then suddenly you're floating and it's perfectly quiet."

More than 100 people showed up at the Madison airport to witness the jump.