Dare to Dream: Flying Solo With Diabetes

Douglas Cairns

“Dare To Dream – Flying Solo With Diabetes; Around The World in 159 Days” is an inspirational memoir by Douglas Cairns who carried out an extremely brave feat of flying around the world at the controls of a light aircraft with type 1 diabetes. His aims were clear: to raise awareness of diabetes around the world, in particular, to highlight that diabetes need not limit the scope of peoples’ dreams and ambitions. In 1989, Douglas Cairns was a jet flying instructor in the British Royal Air Force when his doctor told him, “You are a diabetic, and you WERE a pilot,” and that he would never be able to fly again due to the risk of low blood sugars and incapacitation. “Dare To Dream” tells how Douglas returned to his flying dreams 14 years later using a private pilot’s license in the USA, and in 2002 carrying out “Diabetes World Flight” at the controls of a 1970 Beech Baron B58 twin-engine aircraft. Douglas gives an extremely compelling and frank description of his loss of flying career, adapting to life with a chronic medical condition, changing career, and after regaining the freedom to fly, his diabetes fact-finding flight around the world lasting 159 days through 22 countries.

“You are a diabetic, and you were a pilot.” With those words, Douglas Cairns’ career as an RAF fighter pilot came to an abrupt end. But his love of flying never waned. Several years later, after learning that the US will grant a pilot’s license to people with type 1 diabetes, Douglas headed to America to return to doing what he loved — flying. And fly he did. Beginning in Omaha, Nebraska on September 24, 2002, Douglas, along with a safety pilot, flew around the world in 159 days. Dare to Dream is a fabulous story of this flight and the challenges associated with flying a small plane around the world. It’s also a testament to one person’s refusal to take no for an answer in the face of diabetes, and a reminder to all of us that being diagnosed with diabetes does not mean you have to put your dreams aside.

— Jeff Hitchcock

Published by Albyne Press. $16.95. ISBN 0954992903.2005

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