2012 Articles

SEP 01 2012
Aviation News >> Pilots With Diabetes To Set National Speed Record

The pilots will fly six aircraft in the form of a “D” for almost two hours, passing over six villages and towns whose first letters will sequentially spell the word “DIABETES” from start to finish, finally landing at Goodwood (Chichester) Airport.

The group of pilots have either lost professional flying careers on diagnosis of diabetes or previously had restrictions applied to flying activities or career ambitions, and are part of a group, Pilots With Diabetes, which was formed in 2007 to promote flying with insulin treated diabetes.

The flight coincides with a recent announcement by the UK Civil Aviation Authority which introduced a new policy, on 13 August, enabling pilots with insulin treated diabetes to fly commercially and privately.

The UK is now understood to be the second country in the world to enable commercial flying with diabetes and is the only country to enable both commercial flying and full private flying privileges. Pilots need to demonstrate good overall control of diabetes before gaining a medical qualification to fly.

Commenting on the speed record and new policy, Douglas Cairns, who will lead the formation flight, said “UK Diabetes Formation Flight is the first speed record of its kind in the UK and it is very exciting to do this so soon after the new CAA policy announcement for flying with diabetes. There have been positive developments for recreational flying with diabetes already over the last 10 years in the UK. However, this is now a very positive step for pilots with diabetes, and indeed people with diabetes, to see the introduction of both commercial and full private flying opportunities here in the UK.”

The pilots, all National Private Pilot Licence Holders, include the aforementioned UK Diabetes Formation Flight organiser and former RAF pilot instructor Douglas Cairns, holder of 12 aviation speed records, including a flight to the North Pole from Alaska in 2011. Also airborne will be co-ordinator of Flying With Diabetes, Damian Fessey, a fellow-founder member of Pilots With Diabetes and private pilot for 10 years; George Duncan, a balloonist world record holder and former British Airways pilot; Karl Beetson, joint aviation national speed record holder of Around Britain’s Coastline; Matt Ponsford, a private pilot since 2010, and James D’Arcy, joint holder of a speed record to land in all 48 contiguous states of the USA and winner of London to Sydney air race in 2001.

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF, the Type 1 Diabetes charity said: “We fully support Pilots With Diabetes in their amazing record attempt and wish them every success. We were also pleased to learn of the recent CAA announcement which will enable personnel with diabetes to carry out their duties unrestricted, subject to rigorous monitoring and testing regimes.”

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