The baron against snow topped mountains

Flying With Diabetes (FWD) aims to inspire and advocate positive messages about living and flying with diabetes. We do this by carrying out exciting aviation speed records, and organizing FWD Days at aviation museums and airfields for children, adults and families, and local communities with diabetes. Our activities raise funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

24-Hour World Record Attempt - USA - 26 July

Any day from July 26th 2018, weather permitting, Douglas Cairns and Torbjørn Dahl (Thor) will launch an attempt to beat an existing world record of visiting 23 US states in 24 hours.

In a Beech Baron twin-engine plane, they will depart from Sanford, Maine, at 2 a.m. and work their way down the east coast USA before turning west towards Arkansas and then northwards towards Indiana and hopefully beyond. Much depends on weather and stamina! Stay tuned for running updates and video during our adventure, right here on our facebook page!

By way of background: Douglas Cairns was a jet flying instructor in the Royal Air Force when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1988 and was thereby grounded from his flying duties. Since 2002, he has been running "Flying With Diabetes" and since 2007 helping co-ordinate "Pilots With Diabetes" which are working to raise awareness around restrictions people with diabetes have to live with, and trying to help grounded/aspiring pilots with diabetes return to flying. Many of these restrictions are out dated thanks to massive development in treatment, technology and medicine.

Thor had just finished his training as a helicopter pilot in the Norwegian Air Force when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2017. Since then, he has been working to change the general ban of people with diabetes from flying that still exists in most countries. During his research and efforts to convince authorities of his medical suitability, Thor got in touch with Douglas through his organization.

26th of July (or within the next few days) the two are departing on this challenging flight in order to, first of all, have fun! And to raise awareness around the long out dated regulations that have affected our lives as well as millions of others along the way!


2018 Events

  1. May 5 - Flypast; Children With Diabetes Camp, Cotswolds
  2. July 11/12/13 - Talks at Children With Diabetes Friends For Life; Florida
  3. July 29 - Flypast: Yorkshire Three Peaks
  4. July 4 - World Record Attempt over 24 Hours to Visit Max. No. of USA States with Torbjorn Dahl
  5. August 17/18/19- Attend TCOYD ONE Conference, San Diego
  6. September 17 - Speed Record, Rocky Mountains, USA
  7. September 30 - Flypast; JDRF One Walk Midlands
  8. October 26/27/28- Children With Diabetes Friends For Life Conference UK

London to Glasgow Speed Record – 10 August 2017

Another great flying day, setting a simultaneous speed record from London to Glasgow - subject to ratification by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale!

We had originally planned a London-to-Bodo, Norway speed record, and meeting the local diabetes community at Sandefjord on the way. However weather conditions prevented this route, and instead we took advantage of a day’s clear weather on the 10th August to attempt a new world speed record in the UK, from London to Glasgow over 280 nautical miles to the north.

That morning Karl and Layla flew together in the Vans RV4 (G-RVNS) from Northampton to Denham, and shortly before midday, both Douglas, flying in the Vans RV8 (G-ZUMI), and Karl with Layla, flew in close formation to start the clock overhead Denham Airfield.

After a sunny start, 3,500-foot broken clouds prevailed for the majority of the route which passed by Derby and over the Pennine Mountains to the East of Manchester, then Penrith and Carlisle before reaching Cumbernauld Airport, close to Glasgow. As we flew over Scotland’s Southern Uplands where mountains reach over 2,000 feet, the cloud base lowered temporarily, but we squeezed through fine, quite close to an impressive set of wind turbines. After speaking with Glasgow Approach we flew overhead Cumbernauld in close formation to stop the clock.

A very enjoyable flight over 2 hours and 4 minutes!! A huge thank you to Tim at Denham Airfield for clocking the start of the speed record, and Air Traffic Control at Cumbernauld for clocking the finish.

The rest of the day’s flying heralded some truly memorable flying over the Scottish Highlands! We flew in loose formation by Loch Lomond and through Glencoe, one of Scotland’s most spectacular glens. However, it was a bumpy ride through Glencoe, with a moderate westerly breeze tumbling off the mountain tops, and at one stage throwing the RV8’s maps and airport guide book around the cockpit, while both Karl and Layla were thrown around their cockpit with at least one head knocking the canopy! We beat a retreat across to the eastern side of the valley for calmer air, and once over Loch Linnhe the air was thankfully smooth once again. We flew south west from there and landed at Glen Forsa on the Isle of Mull which has a beautiful beachside grass runway with stunning views across the Sound of Mull to the Scottish mainland.

After a relaxing late lunch, we took off for Inverness, flying by Fort William, Ben Nevis and Speyside in the Grampian Highlands – stunningly beautiful scenery – before landing at Inverness with a sporting wind (thankfully) blowing directly down the runway.

A truly great day’s flying!

Plans are now afoot to fly the London to Norway speed record in late May/June 2018 – fingers crossed weather will "comply" next year.