‘Just a walk in the park’

Safely on the ground, UNM President Garnett Stokes celebrates a successful skydive – her first – onto Johnson Field Tuesday afternoon. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)
Safely on the ground, UNM President Garnett Stokes celebrates a successful skydive – her first – onto Johnson Field Tuesday afternoon. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes had never gone skydiving before, so she asked her tandem jump partner about getting cold feet before the plunge.

“What happens if I say at the last moment at the door that I don’t want to go? He said, ‘Well, you say no, no, no, and I’ll hear go, go, go,’ ” Stokes said in an interview minutes after landing on UNM’s Johnson Field. “I thought, ‘OK. We’re doing this.’ ”

Stokes brought a bit of excitement to UNM’s campus on Tuesday afternoon. She jumped with the U.S. Army Parachute Team from a plane circling about 9,000 feet above campus and skydived onto Johnson Field in front of a crowd of about 60 students and university employees, including many uniformed members of UNM’s ROTC.

During the jump, Stokes was securely attached to Sgt. 1st Class John Ewald, who has been a member of the Golden Knights for 12 years and has made more than 6,000 jumps.

“These are the best of the best. They are elite and that is why I wanted to jump with them, because … we have such a strong relationship with our Army ROTC program and we are focused on being a military-friendly and veteran-friendly school,” Stokes said. “That is the primary (reason for the jump), to showcase the strength of that relationship here at UNM.”

About 10 Golden Knights jumped from a side rear door on a DHC-8 airplane and safely fell through cloudy skies and onto UNM’s campus, said Sgt. 1st Class Roman Grijalva, a member of the team. The team cordoned off about a quarter of Johnson Field as the landing zone, which all the Knights appeared to easily hone in on to make a smooth landing.

“The university ROTC program requested that we come out here and do a tandem jump with the president to showcase what the Army is capable of,” Grijalva said. “We were just in San Diego for an air show, so we coordinated the timing to come make it happen.”

Stokes didn’t skip a beat after the jump. She was falling through the skies giving the Lobo sign one minute and the next she was thanking university employees for watching her landing, and taking pictures with ROTC students.

“It is almost indescribable. It feels like you are floating in air. You don’t realize how fast you are going until that parachute opens up,” she said of her jump. “Then it’s just a walk in the park, basically, while you are floating down.”

Share Your Story

Nativo Sponsored Content

Ad Tango


taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
No classes for Rio Rancho schools due to internet ...
ABQnews Seeker
A Rio Rancho school district has ... A Rio Rancho school district has canceled class because of an internet service outage. Officials with Rio Rancho Public Schools made the decision not ...
2
'Hamilton' single tickets go on sale Oct. 5
ABQnews Seeker
It's almost time for 'Hamilton.' After ... It's almost time for 'Hamilton.' After a year of reshuffling, the Broadway juggernaut is slated for Jan. 25-Feb. 13, 2022 at Popejoy Hall. Single ...
3
The nightmare before Christmas?
ABQnews Seeker
For New Mexicans thinking they'll just ... For New Mexicans thinking they'll just leave holiday shopping until the last minute this year, exper ...
4
Belen tracks down causes of massive water losses
ABQnews Seeker
Consultant's study blames faulty city systems, ... Consultant's study blames faulty city systems, aging infrastructure
5
ABQ vet helps rhinos in South Africa
ABQnews Seeker
Poachers are killing animals in unprecedented ... Poachers are killing animals in unprecedented numbers
6
141 mph on Coal, a too-short arrow, US 550 ...
ABQnews Seeker
NMDOT awaiting funding for US 550 ... NMDOT awaiting funding for US 550 fix
7
Eco-friendly upgrades coming to Sunport
ABQnews Seeker
Zero-emissions passenger shuttle buses among uses ... Zero-emissions passenger shuttle buses among uses of federal money
8
ABQ water utility to serve Intel expansion
ABQnews Seeker
Company will reimburse $1 million design ... Company will reimburse $1 million design expense, pay for infrastructure
9
Courage and compassion hallmarks of vet's life
ABQnews Seeker
Jose Quintero risked his life to ... Jose Quintero risked his life to fashion an American flag in WWII, helped others at home