The baron in flight



People behind the fund-raising dinner and flight:

DouglasDouglas Cairns
In 1989, Douglas Cairns was a British Royal Air Force jet pilot at the age of 25 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 licensed 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 last year broke the existing record to land in all 48 contiguous states of the USA by 33 hours ( 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. Douglas is based in London as an Investment Specialist with Threadneedle Investment Management, covering Asia & Global Emerging Markets equities.


KarlKarl Beetson
Karl developed a burning passion for aviation and on his 16th birthday he flew his first solo circuit. Heartbreakingly in March 2007, aged 17 years old, Karl was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. He has since discovered that although a few doors close, many open, and as a co-founder of Pilots with Diabetes, he still maintains his ultimate ambition to become a professional pilot despite regulations which currently prevent him.

Karl is in his final year of an Aerospace Engineering Degree at the University of Hertfordshire. Currently Karl is planning to do a Master of Philosophy degree in a study involving diabetes and aviation, before embarking upon a medicine degree to become a doctor specialising in diabetes, in addition to his career aspirations he plans to start up his own business which will help fund plenty of flying, skiing, a few ambitious flying projects he has planned for his future, and keeping his classic Mini from rusting!

Soon 21, Karl will be aiming to visit a bar in every single US state and on a personal mission to avoid airsickness after completely filling a sick bag on last year's DF48! He will be providing technical support for DF50 including the operation of GPS real-time tracking system for display on the website, uploading new content as the adventure unfolds, and dealing with communications while en-route.


recent photo of Deborah Deborah Parker
Since the first diabetes Fund Raising Dinner in June 2009, Deborah has spent her time concentrating on learning about diabetes, the potential side effects if not controlled well and getting her sugar levels under control. This hasn't been easy: following the Dinner she spent most of the summer of 2009 abroad on business and in October broke both her heels whilst working on a charity holiday, subsequently spending 3 months in a wheelchair and a further 2 months learning to walk again. During this adversity, Deb found that adapting carbohydrate intake has a powerful effect on helping control blood sugars, and one day she'd like to publish a book of her recipes, several of which she regularly tries out on her long-suffering friends.

Not just passionate about "Raising Diabetes Awareness" and the potential life limiting side-effects if not kept under control, in her spare time she continues to volunteer and speak on behalf of Cancer Research UK following her 3 year treatment for breast cancer.

Deborah lives and works in London where for the past 2 years she has worked for ESAB, the world’s largest Cutting & Welding equipment supplier.


photo of Mel Melanie Parker
Following her sister’s diagnosis in March 2009 and having numerous friends who also have diabetes type 1, she has been learning a lot about diabetes and how difficult it can be to control blood sugars. She is particularly interested in the impact diet has on trying to control them. She is also a willing guinea pig for Deb’s recipes that have low carbohydrate content.

Now living in Berkshire she fills her spare time sailing, skiing, and 'supervising' renovation & redecorating projects at home – a great passion. She is also a qualified disabled ski instructor and has accompanied groups of disabled skiers on holiday.

Melanie spent her formative years in Switzerland.  She has worked in the UK for several major hotel companies in procurement and refurbishment project management roles.  For the past 13 years she has worked for the AHG Group as Asset manager.


AlanAlan Rogers
Alan has a family connection to diabetes with his brother being diagnosed with type 1 at the age of 47 and his mother who had type 2.

Originally from Liverpool, he is now retired after working for 33 years as Airline Cabin Crew for a major European airline. His main passion is hosting wine presentation tours and creating food to accompany the unusual wines he has unearthed whilst discovering Europe.

Based in Berkshire for many years he divides his time between several hobbies including sailing, golf, skiing, woodwork, and renovation projects at home.