diabetes world flight

- Aim
"To be the first pilot with Type 1 Diabetes
to fly around the world in a light aircraft and raise money for diabetes research".
- Douglas Cairns

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Flight Diary

19th February 2003
After five months, 63 flights, 26,306 nautical miles and 22 countries, DWF completed its journey today! The weather was crisp and clear for the final (short) flight from North Platte to Council Bluffs Airport near Omaha, and the landscape was certainly different to departure with snow-covering the ground for much of the journey. On arrival, it was good to see Dave and Lori Geiger again after Hawaii, and the Advanced Air Inc. airport staff. It was also good to be met by The Daily Nonpareil and Omaha World Herald newspaper reporters, plus NBC (WOWTV), CBS (KM3) and ABC (KETV) network television crews – many thanks to all for coming out to the airport.

It really has been a great adventure, and it is very much hoped that positive messages behind DWF can be used effectively. The project has definitely demonstrated that a pilot with Type 1 Diabetes can fly around the world safely and practically according to the US FAA regulations. It is also very much hoped that the message that “diabetes need not limit people’s dreams and ambitions” can be spread. It all boils down to people's knowledge and attitude, and DWF’s best wishes go to many country diabetes associations who work hard to educate the public and help reduce discrimination against people with diabetes. Finally, it is hoped that the funds raised for research (US$19,000 so far) can assist in improving healthcare and ultimately finding a cure for diabetes.

Many thanks go to so many people for supporting DWF. In particular to Douglas’ parents, sister Ann and family, and friends for unwavering support, Tom Claytor for inspiration and continued encouragement along the way, Michelle Miller for her amazing work behind the scenes, Lisa for acting as webmaster, and James Aiden and Ty Semons for acting as safety pilots outside the US. Also to Accu-Chek Compact & Test Drums and Roche Diagnostics for donating blood test meters and generous donations to DWF fund raising efforts, and to Simon Macfadyen of Marsh Speciality Operations Limited and Phil Gregory of Global Aerospace for arranging and underwriting DWF insurance cover, and for donating half of the international premium to DWF. To Air BP for refueling at eight locations, Jeppesen UK for donating the North Atlantic Trip Kit, Sheraton Hotels for supporting at three locations
and Marriot Hotels in two locations, and Harold Cheeseman of Omaha Airplane Supply for donating a replacement instrument vacuum pump. There were also many people, diabetes associations, doctors, and companies en-route who supported DWF and to whom many thanks go. Thank you also for all the encouraging (and quite a few amusing!) messages posted on the Guest Page. It has been a real pleasure to read these whilst travelling.

Fund Raising for Diabetes Research
To date, over US$19,000 has been received and pledged. Thank you very much to all those who have donated – very much appreciated! The fund raising remains open until August 2003, and for anyone waiting until completion, please feel free to make a donation now! The funds will go direct to the Diabetes UK (British Diabetes Association) Research Fund plus the American Diabetes Association (ADA) Research Foundation. Funds are being collected by Diabetes UK, details of which can be found on the “Donations Page” on this website.

Additional fund raising activities are planned over the following six months, including a fund raising ball in Bangkok in mid-May and another flying project with “Flight4Diabetes” in the USA in late July. Details of these events will be posted over the next two months.

What Next?
Firstly, it is planned to post a few more photographs on the website over the next few days, so keep logging on! After a few days here in Omaha, Douglas heads back to Scotland to see family plus some skiing with friends in the Alps before heading to Thailand in April. A speech is planned at the American Diabetes Association Hawaii Chapter’s annual fund raising ball at the end of May, and then it’s back to mainland USA for more flying over summer. As outlined above, additional activities and events are being arranged in conjunction with DWF, and details will be posted over the next two months.

Once again, THANK YOU, everybody, for your support!

Final Few Days
It feels quite strange to be nearing completion after a year of planning and executing DWF. Assuming no unforeseen delays, a flight to North Platte is planned for Tuesday 18th before the final hop to Omaha. Arrival at Council Bluffs Airport is scheduled for 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday 19th February.

18th February 2003
Flight to North Platte from Salt Lake City
A three-hour flight was made today to North Platte, Nebraksa. Weather conditions were good again, with occasional layered clouds at 13,000 feet resulting in light icing. The final flight to Omaha is planned for tomorrow.

17th February 2003
Flight to Salt Lake City
At this time of year, particularly with snowstorms creating havoc in parts of the US, if the weather conditions are good, just go! With a favourable en-route forecast, DWF departed Hayward at 9 a.m. for Salt Lake City, enjoying clear views of San Francisco Bay, Golden Gate Bridge and fog-filled valleys on the way out. Tailwinds resulted in ground speed of 200 knots so the journey over the Sierras and desert only took three hours.

It was a pleasure to be met by Ivan Tcherniaev who had contacted DWF a couple of weeks ago, Sam, who has Type 1 diabetes, and Bill Oberg, the Salt Lake City Chapter President of the Experimental Aircraft Association. Bill had kindly contacted local media that morning and KUTV, Channel 2 Station was waiting for a quick interview on arrival. Many thanks indeed to Ivan for hosting DWF in Salt Lake City and to Bill for meeting DWF and arranging media.

15th – 17th February 2003
San Francisco
It was definitely good to complete the long over water flights. Much of Saturday (15th Feb) morning was spent at International Air Services where Richard and Chris dismantled the ferry tank system – it was good to get the Baron back to her “old self”. Many thanks go to Richard and Chris for carrying this out on the weekend and also to Ed Therrien and Cindy for an enjoyable meal that evening.

15th February 2003
San Francisco
DWF landed in San Francisco at 1am 15th February after an 11 hour flight from Hawaii. Details below.

14th February 2003
Flight to San Francisco (2026 Nautical Miles)
This was a great flight – eleven hours with strong tailwinds and good arrival conditions in San Francisco. It was also carried out “solo” as the Hawaii/California route is regarded as a domestic US flight. The one drawback, however, was the forecast of a cold front with embedded isolated thunderstorms lying across part of the route, so a slight detour to the south was planned and flown.

Takeoff was at midday into three hours of solid cloud, rain plus some unwelcome turbulence. With all fuel tanks filled up, the aircraft was 19% above its normal maximum weight. In this condition it is easier to overstress the airframe in turbulent conditions, so at times the engines were throttled back to reduce speed and in turn reduce the likelihood of overstressing. Disturbingly, two hours into the flight Air Traffic Control warned of a “squall line” (a line of intense thunderstorms) close to DWF flightpath. Fortunately the existing southerly detour avoided this, but it was an uncomfortable couple of hours just “waiting” for unseen turbulence in cloud.

Thereafter, conditions improved. Tailwinds also increased to 45 knots at one stage, resulting in ground speed of 220 knots – great! After five hours darkness fell, and much of the remaining flight was enjoyed in moonlight. About 400 miles off the Californian coast some cloud and airframe icing was encountered and a descent made from 9,000 feet to 7,000 feet into warmer air. Meanwhile, contact had been lost with San Francisco Radio (long-distance HF radio) for four hours but position and “operations normal” reports were relayed via VHF emergency “guard” frequency with airliners flying overhead - many thanks to Hawaii 20, Fedex 1800 and American 72 flights for doing this.

The forecast for San Francisco was extremely accurate, breaking through cloud at 2,500 feet with good visibility ahead. At 1 a.m. and after 11 hours airborne, it was good to arrive at Hayward Executive Airport.

Plan for Onward Flights to Omaha Weather permitting, departure from Hayward to Salt Lake City is set for Tuesday 18th and completion in Omaha by Friday 21st February...

8th - 15th February 2003
Four most enjoyable days were spent on Maui Island with Dave and Lori Geiger from Omaha. Activities included whale watching aboard a small (home-built) yacht and snorkeling around a sunken volcanic cone. One can definitely see why Hawaii is such a popular holday destination with warm weather (80 degrees F each day) and loads of sunshine on the southerly leeward shorelines.

Indeed, it really was a great place to "wait out" for favourable tailwinds! However, it was good to make the short flight to Hilo on Wednesday 12th February to prepare for the 2026-mile flight to California. Once again, humpback whales were spotted en-route, and a quick visit was made to Molokai's stunning mountainous northeast shoreline plus an an active volcano on the "Big Island" which feeds huge lava flows right into the ocean.

Preparations were then made for the flight to California on 14th February...details to follow.

8th February 2003
Flight to Maui Island
It was a clear and sunny day for Saturday’s flight to Maui. It was also the first solo flight for Douglas since 25th September, having re-entered US territory in Hawaii where the Class 3 medical is valid once again.

Hawaii is comprised of volcanic islands and erosion over the millennia has resulted in some stunning mountain scenery. Today’s route tracked via the north side of Kaui Island where mountains rise almost 3,000 feet sheer out of the water. With ocean swells crashing into cliff faces and waterfalls cascading from above, it is such a picturesque area that some Hollywood scenes have been shot here.

It was tremendous fun to fly for a while at 50 feet (and lower) over water and gain a good perspective of the Pacific Ocean northerly swells. (The USA low-level flying rules are such that you can fly as low as you like over uninhabited areas or over water, as long as you keep at least 500 feet from any people or structures.) It was also low enough for salt to crystallize on the windscreen and leading edges of the wings. These crystals were duly sprayed and wiped off after landing to avoid corrosion

After Kaui, DWF tracked around the “North Shore” of Oahu and across to Molokai Island. On the south side of Molokai and in the lee of the northerly trade winds, a truly amazing sight was enjoyed. Several humpback whales were gliding gracefully through the water and shooting white spray into the air as they surfaced. A few minutes were spent wheeling around to enjoy this spectacle. There were two baby whales swimming with their mothers, and one large whale was swimming on its side, playfully slapping its pectoral fin on the water surface. What a truly amazing sight and experience!

Shortly afterwards, DWF landed at Kahului Airport on Maui Island where Dave and Lori Geiger were waiting to give a lift to Lahaina, a relaxed resort village on the west coast. While driving along a couple of humpback whales were seen again from the western shores. Many thanks indeed to Dave and Lori for the lift – much appreciated!

5th February
Waikiki Wedding
Wednesday was a big day! It was a real honour and pleasure to be present at Ty and Maria’s wedding which was held in a tranquil beachside park nestling beneath the stunning Diamond Head's volcanic crater. Having spent three and a half months with Ty, DWF’s second safety pilot, there is no doubt that “love was in the air”. It was a very moving ceremony.

30th January – 7th February
Hawaii Islands
On 30th January, a short flight was made from Hilo on the “Big Island” (Hawaii) to Honolulu on Oahu Island. Hawaii’s highest volcano, Mauna Kea (13,769 feet) could be seen rising above the clouds, and tracking northeast towards the coast, some miniature volcanic craters sat on the lower slopes, like warts atop skin.

Dave and Lori Geiger arrived from Omaha on Saturday 1st February from Omaha and the first two nights on Oahu were spent at Cory and Helga Trummel’s B&B in Pearl City. Helga and Cory’s B&B house has tremendous rustic charm and is more like an amazing German museum in the middle of Hawaii! It was a pleasure to be welcomed into their home, and the two nights proved to be most enjoyable and entertaining. The rest of the stay on Oahu was in Waikiki where the beach offered some welcome R&R in between meetings and onward organization.

At Honolulu Airport, Century Aviation arranged maintenance and minor repairs for DWF’s aircraft at Aloha Island Air. A couple of spare parts had to be sent over from mainland USA and the aircraft was finally ready on Friday 7th February for onward flights.

Diabetes in Hawaii
During the week a visit was made to Wendy Sefo, Executive Director of the American Diabetes Association Hawaii Chapter. The incidence of diabetes in Hawaii is almost two percentage points higher than on the mainland, with one in four native Hawaiians over the age of 30 having diabetes (mainly Type 2). The Japanese community in Hawaii also shows high incidence. An informative meeting was also held with Margaret West who carries out studies in the native Hawaiian community. Many thanks indeed go to Wendy for her support and interest in DWF while in Hawaii. Also thanks go to Mandie Pearson of McNeil Wilson Communcations, ADA’s Hawaii PR consultant, for arranging media coverage with KHVH Radio Mike Buck Show, Honolulu Star Bulletin newspaper and KGMB Television.


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