Diabetes Flight Reaches Pole

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There's plenty to do flying a Beech Baron to the North Pole, a place where no Baron has been before, but Douglas Cairns had one more hourly task that most pilots don't have. "Another hourly 'cockpit check' was blood sugar testing, and with additional continuous glucose monitoring, I was delighted to see blood sugars remaining in a tight and good range for flying," Cairns reported after completing a 13-hour round trip from Barrow, Alaska, to the Pole last week in his Diabetes Polar Flight. Cairns is a former Royal Air Force pilot who lost that job when he developed Type 1 diabetes. He's since embarked on a worldwide campaign to raise awareness and money for diabetes research. Cairns fought headwinds all the way to the Pole but the weather was otherwise good for the record-setting flight.

After a few laps around the Pole itself, Cairns set the Baron down on an ice runway at a Russian camp near the Pole. "What an amazing place to land! The 900-meter (bulldozed) ice strip was bumpy but I slowed up in good time and after shutting the engines down, it was a truly exhilarating moment to be standing on the polar ice," he reported. Exhilaration turned to concern a short time later when he discovered the door to the Baron wouldn't close but 40 minutes of lubing, pushing, shoving and slamming finally got it latched for the return flight.