Doug Barron, D-30343 and a member of 4-way formation skydiving team SDC Rhythm XP, made an amazing comeback in the sport after being severely injured in 2018. Through intense rehab and a strong mental desire, he started training again within a year of his accident, and the team achieved a stunning upset victory over perennial champion Arizona Airspeed at the 2019 USPA Nationals. Barron also has several world record plaques on his wall, as well as five USPA Nationals gold medals for 16-way FS. He truly is an inspiration in the sport.
Nicknames: Boron, Bearld, Bronson, Mr. Doug
Birthplace: Kennesaw, Georgia
Marital Status: Happily taken
Occupation: Professional skydiver
Education: Some college
Team Name: SDC Rhythm XP
Sponsors: Airtec; Cookie Helmets; Larsen & Brusgaard; Para Concepts; Performance Designs; Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois; Skydive Paraclete XP in Raeford, North Carolina; Skydive Sebastian in Florida; Sun Path Products; Tony Suits
Container: Sun Path Javelin Odyssey
Main Canopy: Performance Designs Valkyrie Hybrid 90
Reserve Canopy: Performance Designs PDR 113
AAD: Airtec CYPRES 2 C-Mode
Discipline: Formation skydiving
Home Drop Zone: Skydive Chicago
First Jump: Two tandems, then AFF in 2003
USPA Licenses and Ratings: A-46164, B-28697, C-37687, D-30343, AFF Instructor, Coach
Championships, Medals and Records: USPA Nationals: 4-way formation skydiving open—gold in 2019, silver in 2016, 2017, 2018; 8-way FS open—bronze in 2014, 2017; 16-way FS—gold in 2014-2017, 2019. Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Cup: 4-way FS open—bronze in 2017, silver in 2019. FAI World Records: Largest Two-Point Formation Skydive (219-way) and Three-Point Formation Skydive (217-way), Largest Full-Break Two-Point Formation Skydive (130-way)
Total Number of Jumps: 9,000 FS: 6,850 Freefly: 50 Tandem: 2,000 Camera: 100 BASE: Two
Largest Completed Formation: 219
Total Number of Cutaways: About 20
Who have been your skydiving mentors?
I have a few: My father, for introducing me to the sport and taking me on my first two tandems. Jan Lane, Joey Freeman, Kirk Verner and Shannon Pilcher had a huge impact on me early in my career and still to this day. Craig Girard is someone who I look up to immensely, not only for his skydiving accomplishments and skill but also because of the person he is and how he influences those around him.
What are your future skydiving goals?
To become a world champion, organize a world record and give back to the sport that has given me so much.
What safety item do you think is most often neglected?
Good, consistent gear checks.
How did you become interested in skydiving?
I grew up around it. My father started skydiving when I was about 5, and I was a drop zone kid since then.
Do you have any suggestions for students?
Always ask questions if you are uncertain about something.
If you could do a fantasy 2-way, whom would it be with?
Well, I have already jumped with my dad and all my mentors, so I would like to take my mom and my brother on tandems. I want them to experience what I am lucky enough to do for a living.
If you could make everyone do something to make Earth better, what would it be?
Legitimately listen and understand other people’s views and ideas. You don’t have to accept them, but at least listen and try to understand.
What has been your most embarrassing moment at a drop zone?
Taking out most of my sector on the three-point 217-way. Walking into the hangar to debrief and hearing the captain from the sector next to mine say, “Who is that guy in the blue helmet?” It was me. (Luckily, our sector was able to rebuild on that jump.)
The toughest thing to do in the sport of skydiving is:
Admit you made a mistake and learn from it. Even the experts and professionals don’t know everything.
What kind of skydiving student were you?
In the middle. I was no perfect student, but I didn’t have to repeat any levels.
Do you have any suggestions for USPA?
Support those who earn the privilege to represent the U.S. at any competition. Stress currency, safety and continuing education for all instructors. The better our instructors are, the better our students will be, and for those who do only that one tandem, the better they will perceive our sport and what we do.
Can you tell the story of your accident?
I had an AAD activation while landing on April 12, 2018. It resulted in a two-out scenario and caused me to fall onto the taxiway at Skydive Sebastian. I broke my left calcaneus in half, shattered my right tibia (which resulted in an open fracture), broke my right fibula and broke my back at L3. I started jumping again in May of 2019 and began training again with my team, SDC Rhythm XP. We competed at the USPA Nationals in 2019 and we won 4-way open [formation skydiving] after a tie-breaking jumpoff and defeated the then-national-champion Arizona Airspeed. The win was also on a “selection year,” which meant that our team will now represent the USA at the next world championships, something we have all been working for years to achieve.
That must have been a surreal experience.
Yes, it was. We had limited training that year, and our goal was to get back to our performance level of 2017. The week before Nationals, we did 20 jumps, and they were they best we had done all year. We continued with that into Nationals and had a fantastic meet and wound up winning the jumpoff to become the U.S. Team for 4-way.
What was your secret sauce for making the comeback?
I was lucky enough to be surrounded by incredible people who helped me throughout my recovery. My family, friends and teammates were there to help push me every day. I set short-term and long-term goals, and that helped me stay motivated to continue to push forward. Never settle and try to stay positive, even on the bad days.
Is there one jump you’d like to make again?
Yes, I would have liked to make sure that my AAD was in the correct setting before training that day in April 2018.
What do you see as the future of FS?
Individual skill levels are growing every day, which is fantastic for the sport. It will push FS to averages and accomplishments never thought possible.