Freestyle Canopy Piloting with Franco Darman

Friday, November 18, 2022

I am from Argentina and I started skydiving when I was 21. My brother Marcos competes also, and he was my instructor. My family used to run a dropzone at home in Argentina, so that is where I come from – a dropzone kid. My mum didn’t want us to jump until we were 18, and I was doing a lot of other stuff while growing up. I was playing football and rugby and had decided to study medicine so it was full on with university. I was holding off on skydiving because I think I knew that the day I did my tandem it would make me a skydiver. 

Photo: Bina Maja

I moved to Mexico with 150, where I was working as a packer, driving vehicles, and editing videos – then I started doing more and more camera jumps before getting my other ratings. I worked in Mexico for six or seven years, then one season in New Zealand, and now I am in Dubai.

Marcos started competing way before me, even before I started jumping. With 70 jumps I followed him to a swooping competition in Brasil, and I thought that it was cool. Somehow, landings felt natural for me from the beginning, and guess I picked up a lot of information in the early stages. I was watching and paying attention, plus Marcos was teaching me what to look for so I could give him tips about the other competitors. It is not the usual progression, but I started training from there. As a dropzone kid, the landings are the part you can see in person. 

Photo: Bina Maja

I downsized quite fast. I did not do too many jumps on each size of parachute, but I was getting coached on every jump. I was on a Pilot 139 for a little while, then a Sabre 120 with the fast openings. From there I was using a Crossfire 99 which was a big step. It was my dad’s parachute and it was what I had access to. From that, I move to a 74 – which was I huge step that I definitely don’t recommend. Now I am a canopy coach, I understand way more that even though I am a small guy I would have learned much more efficiently with proper progression – because a wing like that was making me too scared to do things. It seemed like I would progress faster, but on the wrong canopy, your bad habits develop fast and are bigger.

Photo: Dee Akers

Around 2016 I went to Deland and saw people doing freestyle. I asked for a few tips and just tried it. That was the beginning of freestyle for me – I will never forget the first day I tried a Blindman. I like the other canopy piloting disciplines, but freestyle is my favorite. My first competition was in Poland in 2018, and it was great. At that stage, I could still only do a Blindman well – but some people from Swoop Freestyle saw me there training and saw I could fly safely – so I got invited to Copenhagen in 2018. I think I surprised a lot of people because not too many knew me at that time. I think maybe still not many people know me now.

Photo: Skydive Arizona

I trained a lot for Arizona and am proud of how it went. In 2019 I earned a second place, and people we very nice about it – but I was not satisfied. I appreciated it a lot, but I was not the champion. This is my first gold medal and I feel great. You have to practice, practice, practice a lot for it to pay off. I hit the ground many times, but ultimately I reached my goal because I didn’t give up. I think I won because I pulled off something nobody had seen before. Maybe it had been done by somebody at home, but no one had achieved a Blindman/Tick Jockey combo in a competition. I am super happy that it works and that I can bring new stuff to the game. Sometimes with the combos, everything looks rushed and fast and you can’t really appreciate the details. It is hard to judge like this. I want to perform something that surprises people, but also that they can see clearly what it is.

Photo: Bina Maja

If you want to go for freestyle, be safe and never give up! Thanks very much to my family for supporting me and to Cypres and SSK for having me on the team.    

Text: Franco Darman



Adventure, Tips, and Adrenaline

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

By signing up for our newsletter you declare to agree with our privacy policy.