The baron against snow topped mountains

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

2015 Events

The following events are taking place in 2015:

  1. May - Flypast at Children With Diabetes Camp, Cotswolds.
  2. 4th July - Launch of 14-country flying project (details to follow in March).
  3. 8 July - Talk at Children With Diabetes Friends for Life Conference; Orlando.
  4. August 29 - Flypast at JDRF fund-raising event at Snowdon and Ben Nevis.
  5. September - Flypast at Aberdeen and Falkirk JDRF Walk to Cure fund-raising events.
  6. September - Diabetes Formation Flight USA; 3-day tour of US mid-west with 4 + aircraft


Flying With Diabetes Day 2014 - 1st November; IWM Duxford.

We enjoyed an excellent "Flying With Diabetes Day" on 1st November for over 100 attendees. A huge thanks to everyone for coming; to JDRF for advertising the event and registrations, to the speakers Kyle Rose, Malcolm Knowles, Dean Horridge, Claire Williams, Karl Beetson, Jo Brodie and Gavin Griffiths, to "Mad Science" for entertaining the younger members of the audience and to the IWM Duxford Airspace Conference Centre for the venue and catering.

Also huge thanks to to our Silver Sponsors Dexcom, Medtronic Diabetes, Nipro Diagnostics, Roche Diagnosics and Bronze Sponsor Sanofi Diabetes for making the event possible.

We're delighted to have raised over £2,500 for JDRF. A very enjoyable day!

We’re also delighted to report that this £2,500 brings the total raised for JDRF to over £100,000 since 2009 – a huge thank you to everyone for helping achieve this figure!

FWD Day Programme 2014

2014 Events

The following events took place in 2014:

  1. April 5, Speech at Association of Aviation Medical Examiners Annual Meeting.

  2. May 3, Flypast
    Children With Diabetes Cotswold weekend event

  3. May 31, Seminar at Sywell Aero Expo;
    "Flying With Diabetes" (13:30 – 14:15)

  4. June 14, Flypast JDRF Tour de Type 1;
    Harrogate at 5:30 p.m.

  5. June 28, Diabetes Formation Flight USA.
    A new speed record by six aircraft between Lincoln, Nebraska and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and landing at Fly Iowa 2014 annual airshow. (

  6. July 12, Flypast JDRF Tour de Type 1;
    Harrogate at 5:30 p.m.

  7. July 28, EAA Airventure Oshkosh Forum;
    "Flying With Diabetes" (Forum 5; 11:30 – 12:45)

  8. August 10, UK Diabetes Formation Flight. (delayed until 2015)
    A new speed record by two aircraft to land in all 38 counties of England between dawn & dusk.

  9. September 14, Flypast JDRF "Walk to Cure Aberdeen"
    Drum Castle

  10. September 28, Flypast JDRF "Walk to Cure Central Scotland"
    Falkirk Wheel

  11. November 1, Flying With Diabetes Day.
    At Duxford Imperial War Museum; an inspirational & educational event at the UK's premiere aviation museum.

Diabetes Formation Flight USA 2014

Diabetes Formation Flight USA ( a formation speed record by four aircraft was successfully completed on Saturday 28 June between Lincoln, Nebraska (KLNK) and Cedar Rapids, Iowa (KIOW).

diabetes formation flight planesAll aircraft were flown by pilots with type 1 diabetes; Douglas Cairns in a Beech Baron, Jason Harmon in a Cessna 172, Chris Isler in another C172 and Taylor Verett and Brian Strack in a Piper Archer along with Kathryn from Illinois, also with type 1 diabetes as a passenger in the Baron. Total time was 2 hours, 5 minutes and 15 seconds for an average speed of just over 113 knots.

Training was held at Council Bluffs Airfield, Iowa (KCBF), over two days immediately beforehand with two flights each day, practicing formation positions so we could all start and finish simultaneously for the speed record, and "break to land" at Iowa City where we started the "Fly Iowa 2014" air show at noon.

diabetes planes in flightSome humid Midwest weather and thunderstorms delayed training on Thursday 24th June, but on the speed record day itself, we were lucky as heavy rain and storms cleared southwest of Lincoln, and low cloud and visibility cleared in eastern Iowa as we headed towards Cedar Rapids. The first hour was spent in smooth and increasingly clear conditions, but we had to descend near Omaha and carry out much of the remainder of the flight under broken cloud base at 1500 feet above ground.

As ever it was an extremely enjoyable few days together, and an excellent example of showing what can be done with diabetes with a good system/protocol for flying in place.

dffusa 2014Many thanks go to Amy Francis and Michelle Wilson at Lincoln Airport Tower, Tim Ryan at Omaha Approach, and Greg Bardsley and Lawrence Darling at Cedar Rapids Approach and Tower respectively – your help was much appreciated. Thanks also to Advanced Air Inc., at Council Bluffs Airport for help with preparations and rental aircraft. It was also a real pleasure to have Kathryn with us for the speed record and parents Jenny and Rick during training (who dashed by road from Council Bluffs where we launched from to Iowa City to witness our break-to-land at Iowa City). We look forward to next year's project!



flying with diabetes day 2013Flying With Diabetes Day 2013 – 12th October

It was a very enjoyable Flying With Diabetes Day 2013 on 12 October, with over 100 attendees at Duxford Imperial War Museum! Talks were given by Douglas, Kyle Rose, Karl Beetson, Gavin Griffiths, Mike Cross, Dr. Frank Waldron-Lynch and Dilan Shah, on subjects ranging from aviation speed records and running 30 marathons in 30 days to climbing Kilimanjaro, plus medical research on treatment for type 1 diabetes, while children's entertainment was given by "Mad Science."

A huge "Thank You" to event sponsors Dexcom, Medtronic Diabetes and Sanofi Diabetes for making the event possible, the exhibiting companies and organisations, to all the speakers, and to everyone for attending. We're delighted that the event has raised over £1,500 for the Juvenile Research Diabetes Foundation (

It was a real pleasure to hold this event once again, and we look forward to another Flying With Diabetes Day in 2014!


Diabetes Formation Flight Europe – 29 September 2013

Diabetes Formation Flight Europe is our first international speed record, carried out by Douglas, Karl Beetson and Matt Ponsford in three light aircraft between Beverley, UK, to le Touquet in France (subject to ratification). The flight kicked off directly overhead Beverley in strong easterly winds in "Vic formation" from where it took 2 hours & 22 minutes to cross the English Channel and "break to land" on Le Touquet's runway 14. Clear and sunny conditions prevailed except for cloudy and hazy conditions near Southend and Dover. A huge "thank you" to everyone at Beverley and Le Touquet Air Traffic Control for so much assistance with this landmark international speed record – made possible by recent UK CAA policy for flying with insulin treated diabetes.

team europe diabetes formation flight europe 2013

Diabetes Formation Flight USA 2013 (25 – 29 July)

Completed Diabetes Formation Flight USA 2013 ( today (29th July), setting a new simultaneous world speed record between Omaha and Madison with four single-engine aicraft, subject to ratification by the National Aeronautic Association. A huge thank you to Jackie Vanantwerp and Tim Ryan at Omaha Tower and Omaha Approach, and also Dennis Vincent at Madison Airport for all your help with observing our line-abreast formation overflight of the start & finish. At the start, Douglas, Jason, Taylor, David, Chris just beat heavy coming in from the west of Omaha, and then at Madison we just beat a four-ship formation of F-16 fighter jets to land!

Total time was 2 hours, 41 minutes and 54 seconds with the aircraft in "finger-four" formation while in transit between Omaha and Madison."

News: Type 1 pilot sets formation flight record.

low pass of the formation planes
From Jason & Taylor's aircraft; Douglas in lead; Chris on right, David closest.
diabetes formation flight 2013
Cessna 172 flown by Chris.

2013 diabetes formation flight USA
Beech Bonanza flown by David and behind is the Diamond DA40 flown by Jason with Taylor on board.

UK Diabetes Formation Flight - 1 September 2012

Six of us set a new national formation speed record on 1st September between Derby and Southampton in 1 hour 22 minutes and 38 seconds. Huge thanks to Solent Radar who cleared us directly to Southampton Airport's overhead and to both Derby Airfield and Solent Radar for recording our start and finish times. Also to Nottingham Airport for hosting us for the launch. A very enjoyable day had by us all - Douglas, George, Damian, James, Karl and Matt flying the aircraft, and Charlie, Malcolm, Tim and Thomas as passengers, all with diabetes! BBC covered the launch, interviewing Damian, which was much appreciated.

diabetes formation flight UK diabetes formation flight UK team
UK Diabetes Formation Flight James D'Arcy, Damian Fessey, Douglas Cairns,
Karl Beetson, Matt Ponsford and George Duncan.

UK CAA Makes Breakthrough Announcement - 13 August 2012

On 13 August 2012, the UK Civil Aviation Authority announced the introduction of flying with insulin treated diabetes for commercial flying and also private flying. (The link is included below.) This is terrific news!!! Our Pilots With Diabetes group has been communicating for almost five years with the UK CAA and we are very, very appreciative of the changes that have been made. A few finer details around the announcement still need to be clarified - hopefully this development can help efforts elsewhere including the USA and Australia!
Please see the announcement below.
CAA to issue medical certificates to pilots and air traffic controllers with insulin-treated diabetes.

Diabetes Formation Flight USA - 26 June 2012

I'm delighted to report that last week's flying project across the USA by two twin-engine aircraft flown by three pilots with diabetes in formation was a resounding success, raising over $27,000 for diabetes research so far and setting a new simultaneous transcontinental USA world speed record.

Please see a one-minute "taster" video below for a 15 minute documentary being released in two months' time.

We departed Daytona Beach, Florida at 0857 Hours local on Tuesday 26th June in close formation, initially working hard in cloud as we steered though some of Tropical Storm Debby's downpours and out over the Gulf of Mexico to avoid thunderstorms before returning to the planned mainland track.

We took 12 hours & 37 minutes to cross from Florida to California, mostly in blissfully clear conditions and tailwinds after Florida. Two refuelling stops were made in eastern Texas and El Paso, western Texas before making a high-speed low-level arrival at a San Diego airfield where we were met by CBS and Fox News for interviews.

The project raised $27,000 (approx. £17,000) for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (, including a US-based foundation matching donations. Many thanks to everyone who supported this exciting project.

Around Britain Speed Record – Sunday 14th August 2011

This was our first UK speed record attempt; a 14-hour & 17-minute whirlwind 3,500 km flight around Britain's coastline between dawn and dusk in a tiny Vans RV8 two-seater single-engine aircraft. It was an early 5.30 a.m. start from Dunsfold Aerodrome, Surrey, from where we flew to Worthing Pier for Emanuel Carriero to witness the start (a huge thanks to Emanuel for doing this plus officially witnessing the finish). With a low pressure system spinning off the far north west coast of Scotland, we set off east to Land's End on a clockwise route, seeking out south westerly tailwinds up the west coast, and weaker headwinds/possibly tailwinds down the east coast. Much to our pleasure (and relief) this plan worked well along with five very quick refuelling stops - Cardiff, Carlisle, Stornoway, Kirkwall and Durham-Teesside Airports. Huge thanks go to each airport (including the Club at Southside, Cardiff Airport, and Teesside's Western handling services) who expedited refuelling - a vital component of this dawn to dusk flight. A huge thanks also goes to Dunsfold Aerodrome for hosting us the night before and facilitating a very early start.

It was such a terrific way to see our beautiful country; low-flying along Devon's coastline, Wales' lush countryside, over (thought-provoking) water across to the Outer Hebrides and around the far north of Scotland. Strong crosswinds made for a bouncy landing at Stornoway, and yet just an hour later we were in beautifully peaceful conditions over the Orkney Islands. Much of the flight was spent below 2,000 feet with clouds keeping us low around England's south coast until mid-Wales, after which sunny spells dominated, and it was good to watch heavy rain showers move eastwards and away from our course as we progressed north towards Cumbria and Scotland. Also en-route we were very grateful for London & Scottish Information plus a number of airports giving basic air traffic services en-route. It was definitely good being in radio contact as we flew over open water between Scotland's western Isles.

Meantime the RV8 coped admirably with squeezing two life rafts plus other survival equipment & food and liquids into limited space, as she cruised at an average speed of around 180 mph. Another factor that worked extremely well was splitting the flying between the two of us, and with Karl also stamping away on his iPAD for weather and GPS information while en-route. Overall it was a very enjoyable if not gruelling record attempt as we made our way around, and a good endurance flight to do here in the UK to help demonstrate how well the system for flying with diabetes works. Once again hourly blood sugar tests become an integral part of regular cockpit checks while continuous glucose monitoring helped give us a clear picture of where blood sugars are trending and take action accordingly.


Vans RV8 plane