A private pilot who’s back on the ground in Council Bluffs just finished a round-the-world flight this week. Douglas Cairns grew up in the United Kingdom. Cairns, who’s from a place called Fort Williams in the Highlands of Scotland, was in the British Royal Air Force but at age 25 was diagnosed with diabetes and grounded. He says he’s able to keep the disease under control, and thus able to fly.Cairns says only four countries will let a pilot with type one diabetes fly, long as he’s got it well under control and meets the rest of the usual medical requirements for a pilot’s license. He got some additional training at the airport in Council Bluffs, and then took off last September on a leisurely trip around the world. It took five months, he covered 26,300 miles and passed through 22 countries. Cairns, who’d had a lucrative banking career in Thailand before coming to Iowa, wanted not only to prove he could fly, but also to raise awareness of his disease. One of the mission’s aims was to meet with local diabetes associations in countries where he stopped and find out what the situation is like for local people coping with the disease. He says his trip proved his point.Cairns says it was really to demonstrate that someone like him, with diabetes, can complete such an ambitious trip safely and in accordance with all the rules, and while he’s delighted to have made it, he wants to show that diabetes shouldn’t limit the scope of people’s dreams and ambitions. After visits home to Scotland and Thailand, he plans to return to Council Bluffs by late spring to do more flying.
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