A native of Norfolk, Va., Darden graduated from Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia in 1953, a master’s in physics from the University of Virginia in 1954 and a PhD in nuclear physics from M.I.T. in 1960.
Darden earned a Private Pilot S.E. Land in 1954; M.E. Land and Instrument Ratings in 1964; a DC-2 Type Rating in 1969; and a Multi-Engine Sea Rating in 1989. He has owned a variety of planes, including a Stinson Voyager, Piper Apache 150, 160 Apache, Cessna 172, Meyers OTW, Ryan SCW, Spartan Executive, Lockheed 12A, DC-2 and a Douglas Dolphin.
Darden worked at the Savannah River Laboratory near Aiken from 1959-1964, and served as an assistant, associate and a full Professor of Physics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at USC from 1964 to 1994. On July 1, 1994, he retired as a Distinguished Professor of Physics.
He flies his airplanes to antique fly-ins and open houses so people can see and hear them. He is a member of the Antique and Classis Division of the Experimental Aircraft Association, South Carolina Aviation Association, American Radio Relay League, The Antique Automobile Club of America, the American Physical Society and the South Carolina Breakfast Club.