ENMU class up in the air

Alisa Boswell

The possibilities for a new course at Eastern New Mexico University are up in the air, literally and figuratively.

Capt. James “Tripp” Johnson, a pilot at Cannon Air Force Base, is working on offering a non-credit skydiving course through the college’s Distance Learning program.

Johnson, an instructor for the course, said he has always felt passionate about jumping and has been a certified jumper since 2003. He said his wife, Carly, originally suggested the idea of beginning a local skydiving certification course.

“Initially, there were lots of people on base interested in skydiving,” Johnson said, before adding that civilian interest was high as well.

He visited Rebbecca Gossett of the Distance Learning department at Eastern New Mexico University and asked if offering a non-credit skydiving course could be a possibility.

The instructors hope to start operations at the end of March or beginning of April. Johnson said as spring approaches, dates will become more definite.

Johnson said the closest drop zones to the Clovis and Portales area are Belen and Midland, Texas.

“It’s tough for people to make a three-and-a-half to four-hour-drive to jump,” Johnson said. “Texas Tech currently has a skydiving club and they go to Midland to jump. We’re hoping eventually, they’ll come down here.”

Johnson said the cost of the certification training will vary, depending on what categories students choose to train in. Along with the different levels of certification training, students can add the option of a one-time jump for $275.

Certification training and tandem jumps will take place at Clovis Municipal Airport.

Johnson said there are different categories for skydiving certification, which include training in jumping with an instructor, training in jumping solo, training in landing and more. The highest level of certification is an A License, which allows a jumper to drop at any drop zone in the nation.

Pricing information is available under the non-credit courses section of the university website (www.enmu.edu).

Johnson is currently working on a business degree at ENMU, and is interested in the business side of skydiving. However, he is making sure he doesn’t do anything that would put him out of line with his active duty status at Cannon.

Capt. Ryan Antoon, another pilot at Cannon, will be an instructor in the skydiving course.

“My brother and I started out skydiving for the adrenaline rush when I was 18, then it turned into a passion,” Antoon said. “We were hooked from jump No. 1. I enjoy being able to share my passion with students.”