Profile - Niklas Daniel | D-28906
by Brian Giboney
Niklas Daniel is a formation skydiving, vertical formation skydiving and canopy piloting coach at AXIS Flight School, which he owns and runs with Brianne Thompson at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. He is also a wind tunnel instructor, freefall photographer, regular on the boogie circuit and member of VFS team Arizona Arsenal.
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia
Nationality: American and German
Marital Status: In a relationship
Education: Some college
Pet Peeves: Overall, I would have to say inefficiency, but when it comes to skydiving: jumpers who listen to headphones on the airplane; people not being jump ready when boarding; jumpers who do not secure themselves or their equipment before takeoff; inadequate separation among freefall groups.
Jump Philosophy: With the wealth of
information that is available, remaining ignorant is a choice.
Team Names: AXIS Flight School and
Sponsor: Adrenaline Obsession, Airtec, Bev Suits, Cookie Composites, Hypoxic, Larsen & Brusgaard, Performance Designs, Skydive Arizona, SkyVenture Arizona, United Parachute Technologies and
Container: United Parachute Technologies Vector Micron
Main Canopy: Performance Designs Velocity 84 and 75. I also quite frequently use a Performance Designs Pulse 190 and Storm 170 when flying with students.
Reserve Canopy: Performance Designs Optimum 126
AAD: Airtec CYPRES 2
Disciplines: I take an interest in all
disciplines because they complement each other.
Home Drop Zone: Skydive Arizona in Eloy
First Jump: An AFF on December 19, 2004
Licenses and Ratings: : D-28906, Coach, AFF and Tandem Instructor, PRO, Safety and Training Advisor.
Championships and Medals: World championships: bronze flying video for the U.S. women’s 4-way FS team (2010); silver flying video for the U.S. women’s 4-way FS team (2008). USPA Nationals: silver flying video in 4-way FS open and bronze flying video in 8-way FS open (2008).
Total Number of Jumps: 7,500-plus
Tunnel Time: 3,500-plus hours
Total Number of Cutaways: 23
(18 sport, one tandem, four intentional)
What was your canopy progression?
Aerodyne Pilot 210, 188, 168 and 150: 1,200 jumps. Performance Designs Sabre 2 135 and 107: 2,500 jumps. Performance De-signs Katana 120, 107 and 97: 300 jumps. Performance Designs Velocity 111, 103, 96, 90, 84, 79 and 75: 3,500-plus jumps. Whenever I switched models, especially to one more aggressive than the previous model, I upsized. Whenever I downsized, I stuck to the same model. The canopies above are the ones I spent the most time with; however, I have flown many more.
Of all of your skydives, is there one jump that stands out the most?
A stunt I performed for a music video where I burned a canopy [I was flying]. The three-story fireball that was created during the explosion was blinding. Even as the canopy disintegrated and I re-entered freefall, the heat from the flames was incredible.
Who have been your skydiving mentors?
Scott Roberts and Isaiah McCauliffe heavily influenced my canopy progression. Kris Reynolds and Joao Tambor’s flying and coaching styles are something I have aspired to as an instructor.
How did you become interested in skydiving?
I have always had a fascination with the sky and flying. I believe this was influenced by my mother’s love of airplanes. Because of this, I was lucky to have star-ted flying glider planes at an early age. When I was old enough to skydive, I gave jumping a try and never turned back.
What are your future skydiving goals?
Win the 2014 world championships in VFS with Arizona Arsenal and continue to grow AXIS Flight School as a leading coaching entity within the industry.
Do you have any suggestions for students?
Stay current, be patient, listen and get as much coaching as possible. Do not make decisions based on image.
If you could do a fantasy 2-way with anybody, whom would it be with?
I would like to make a jump with my stepfather, Jochen. He is one of the coolest people I know and has been instrumental in making AXIS Flight School a success.
The toughest thing to do in skydiving is:
Remembering that jumping is supposed to be fun. Many fall victim to wanting something now. Whether it’s flying head down, swooping, building a team, becoming an instructor or whatever else. Remember to be patient and not get frustrated. Enjoy the ride.
What kind of skydiving student were you?
I never failed an AFF level; however, I was overly aggressive with my learning approach. At the time I figured if something was not working, simply add more power. This method may work in some places but not in skydiving. Even though I may have appeared as a natural at face value, I was definitely a mental flailer. Some of my hardest lessons to learn were patience, exercising restraint and slowing down to see the big picture. Everything in moderation.
Is there one jump you would like to do again?
I would have to go with Todd Love’s first AFF jump. [Love lost both legs and one arm while serving in the military. He learned to skydive in the wind tunnel and then in the air with AXIS Flight School.] This was an incredible experience because it demonstrated to me that anything can be accomplished if you put your mind to it. There were a lot of behind-the-scenes things going on to make Todd’s jumping a reality. Jumping with him was just the icing on the cake where we got to see all of our hard work pay off.
Do you have any suggestions for USPA?
Allow competitors to represent their sponsors’ logos on the podium at world events. Sponsors are such a vital part in helping get teams on the podium. It’s a shame we are unable to thank them in our moment of celebration.
What do you consider your most significant life achievement?
Creating AXIS Flight School. Building a business from the ground up and doing what I am passionate about for a living.