Diabetes Flight 50 launched from Hilo, Hawaii, on 11th July with Douglas Cairns attempting to break the existing record to land in all 50 states of the USA in a Beech Baron BE-58. The time to beat was 13 days, 22 hours and 22 minutes, and 5 days, 15 hours and 16 minutes after departing Hilo (ratified by the National Aeronautic Association), the project twin-engine Baron touched down at Ketchikan, Alaska, cutting the existing record by more than 50%.
After a 14.5-hour flight to Torrance, California, on 11th July, where the extra fuel tanks were de-installed, the team (Douglas and Karl Beetson, our Technical Support, plus the National Aeronautic Association-appointed official record keeper Daniel) sped counter-clockwise around the lower 48 states to Florida, thence north east to New England states, and then westwards to Seattle before the final 4-hour flight to Alaska. Total flight time was 62.2 hours over five and a half days, and with a one-day delay due to a faulty engine RPM needle, the average flight time each airborne day was over 12 hours.
DF50 aims to raise awareness of diabetes, and to demonstrate what people can do with diabetes when it comes to flying - at present only five countries worldwide allow people with type 1 diabetes to fly, with only the USA offering unrestricted private pilot licences. All funds for the flight are covered privately, including major sponsorship from Dexcom LLC, the glucose sensor company, so all the proceeds raised from the fund-raising dinner on 25th June, pledged donations plus our Just Giving donations page, are donated to JDRF which aims to find a cure for type 1 diabetes. Many, many thanks once again to our dinner and flying project supporters – it’s been a terrific project! We now look forward to Diabetes Flight 90, a record-setting flight to the North Pole, set for 25th April 2011.
Douglas was delighted to receive an award in Washington DC for last year’s Diabetes Flight 50 being recognized by the National Aeronautic Association as one of the Most Memorable Aviation Records of 2010.
This year's dinner was at THE CAVALRY & GUARDS CLUB on 25th June, an excellent evening of entertainment with Renfield the Butler and raising over £12,000 on the night and with another £4,000 of donations pledged to the Juvenile Diabetes research Foundation. A huge "thank you" from Melanie, Deborah, Al and Douglas to everyone who attended and to all those supporting the evening.
See Diabetes Flight 48, June 2009:
An enjoyable evening from the minute we entered the venue. We were looked after impeccably, the room looked fantastic, the running score of the evening made it relaxed, and everyone got involved.
A definite calander event for next year! The "straight from the horses mouth" experience of the speakers made Diabetes very real.
- Kevin Smith