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 licenced 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 broke the existing records to land in all 48 contiguous states of the USA ( before smashing the existing 13-day record to land in all 50 USA states by taking just 5 days and 15 hours in 2010. 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.


AlanRonald C. Sheardown
Ron began his flying career in Canada in 1953 earning his private pilot’s license at 16 years of age. Ron worked as a company pilot for a mining company in British Columbia and Yukon, and from there worked as a pilot on transport aircraft during the D.E.W. line construction in the Canadian high Arctic and Greenland, as well as charter flights to Europe and the southern United States. When he moved to Alaska in the late 1960’s he was the Senior Vice President of a group of 23 Canadian junior mining exploration and development companies.

Ron holds U.S. Airline Transport, U.S. Commercial, Canadian Senior Commercial and Polish pilot licenses with instrument and helicopter ratings. He is highly experienced in piloting single and multi-engine land and sea aircraft, including jets and helicopters, with more than 18,000 hours of flight time, including over 10,000 hours in the Canadian Arctic, Greenland, Norway, Russia and Alaska.

Ron has led eight expeditions to the North Pole starting in 1957, and on one expedition from Spitsbergen to Point Barrow Alaska flying an AN-2 Russian aircraft he spent 20 hours and 12 minutes in the air. He is planning a Pole-to-Pole round-the-world flight in the next few years, leaving Anchorage Alaska, flying to the South Pole, then the North Pole, and back to Anchorage.

Ron, a professional miner and chief executive officer of Greatland Exploration, Ltd. with interests in Canada, United states and Russia, owns a Westwind business jet and a Robinson R44 helicopter based in Anchorage. He actively flies sea and ski aircraft, and lives in Anchorage, Alaska with his wife Karin.


KarlKarl Beetson
Karl, 21, 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 completed an Aerospace Engineering Degree at the University of Hertfordshire in 2009 and is currently planning a Master of Science research degree in a study involving diabetes and aviation, before embarking upon a medicine degree to become a doctor specializing 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!

A maestro of technology, Karl particularly enjoyed DF50 as the Technical Support crew member having just turned 21 and enjoying a few beers as he went around the USA! Another personal flying mission was to avoid airsickness after completely filling a sick bag on 2009’s DF48! Once again Karl will be providing Technical Support for Diabetes Polar Flight, including the operation of the Spidertracks GPS real-time tracking system for website display, uploading new content and dealing with communications.


Deborah Parker
Deborah was originally diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in February 2009 following 3 years of treatment for breast cancer. Having been warned that her sugar levels were high she tried to control it with diet and exercise. Feeling extremely unwell and following further tests she was subsequently diagnosed with Type 1 in March. Deb has spent the last 2 years concentrating on learning about diabetes, taking a particular interest in the effects of diet & exercise on sugar levels. In October 2009 she broke both her feet whilst working on a charity holiday abroad, subsequently spending 3 months in a wheelchair and a further 2 months learning to walk again. She will again be challenged with the effects of immobility and controlling her diabetes due to another operation on her feet in October 2010.

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.

Deborah lives and works in London where for the past 3 years she has worked for ESAB, the world’s largest Cutting & Welding equipment supplier.


photo of Mel Melanie Parker
Melanie has been learning a lot about diabetes, more specifically how external influences make it difficult to control your blood sugar and the impact of diet following her sister’s diagnosis for Type 1.

She spent her formative years in Switzerland prior to returning to the UK and has worked for several major international hotel companies in procurement and refurbishment project management roles. She works for the AHG Group as Asset manager where she has worked for the past 14 years.

She lives in Berkshire with Alan & enjoys improving and renovating their home and also finding time to sail on the yacht "Rocketeer", skiing in the winter and in preparation for both, running.


AlanAlan Rogers
Diabetes runs in Alan’s family: his brother was diagnosed with Type 1 aged 47 and his mother had Type 2.

Retired after 33 years working as Airline Cabin Crew for a major European airline, now living in Berkshire but originally from Liverpool, his main passion is designing and delivering wine presentations and courses. He also researches and hosts short tours throughout Europe unearthing unusual wines.

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