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Diabetic pilot, Douglas Cairns, flies to the North Pole

Posted: Apr 20, 2011 11:30 am EDT

(By Correne Coetzer) A diabetic and former British Royal Air Force jet pilot, Douglas Cairns, flew from Barrow, Alaska, to the Magnetic and Geographic North Poles in a light twin-engine, piston powered aircraft. After circling the North Pole, flying through all the degrees of longitude in two minutes, Cairns pointed the Beech Baron B58 towards Barneo and landed on ice runway.

Cairns has lost a full-time flying career to diabetes in 1989, and aims to show that diabetes need not limit the scope of people's dreams and ambitions.

See also news about Art Mortvedt and the Polar Pumpkin and, Barneo starting to close down.

Minor upsets

According to the Diabetes Polar Flight website, Douglas reached the Geographic North Pole on April 19, just after 5pm Alaska time (01h00 GMT) and said he felt great. Fantastic its really good fun.

After flying over 90°N, he said via satellite phone to his support crew, Im turning a circle around the North Pole, going through 24 time zones in two minutes.

The support crew reported that after just under 15 hours in the air he landed at the Russian Ice Camp. He had minor upsets with the GPS and a plane door which refused to close before take-off, but the Beech Baron touched down again at Barrow in the Arctic twilight.

I am delighted that it all went smoothly and somewhat relieved that we got the door shut and I didnt have to consider abandoning the Baron at the North Pole!

Polar Pumpkin

The Cessna, with pilot Art Mortvedt, that is also flying to the North Pole, is grounded by bad weather on the route. According to the latest update on April 16, the plane is tied down in Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories, Canada.

Barneo Ice Camp

Barneo has reported yesterday, as the Arctic season is coming to a close down, that they have started to dismantle some of the tents. There are still enough tents to house the last degree skiers who are out on the ice. The position of the floating camp yesterday was N89°29', E133°51.

In 1989, at the age of 25, Douglas Cairns was a British Royal Air Force jet pilot when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and consequently lost his flying career. In 2000 he regained the freedom to fly in the USA as a licenced private pilot, and then went on to complete "Diabetes World Flight" in 2003, the first round-the-world flight by a pilot with type 1 diabetes.

After completing his world flight Douglas wrote a book on his experiences (Dare to Dream: Flying Solo With Diabetes) and spent three years in the USA giving sponsored motivational talks to the diabetes community. During this time he set five world speed records and two transcontinental speed records in the USA using the Diabetes World Flight "Beech Baron," and broke the existing records to land in all 48 contiguous states of the USA (www.diabetesflight48.com) before smashing the existing 13-day record to land in all 50 USA states by taking just 5 days and 15 hours in 2010.

Douglas is a founder member of Pilots With Diabetes and is passionate about raising awareness of diabetes, and still gives regular talks to diabetes conferences & meetings, highlighting that diabetes need not limit the scope of people's dreams and ambitions. He raises funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (www.jdrf.org.uk).

Douglas Cairns is based in London.

Click here to see the bios of the support team; Ronald C. Sheardown, Karl Beetson, Deborah Parker, Melanie Parker, Alan Rogers. Karl Beetson, technical support member, is also a diabetic.

News about the flight was sent over to ExplorersWeb by Karl Beetson.

#Polar #Air #Medical

Art Mortvedt and Douglas Cairns in Fairbanks, Alaska, earlier this year.
courtesy Douglas Cairns, SOURCE
Douglas Cairns route.
courtesy Douglas Cairns, SOURCE
Denali, from the Beech Baron cockpit during a training flight earlier the year in Alaska.
courtesy Douglas Cairns, SOURCE