Welcome to Flying with Diabetes USA

Flying with Diabetes USA (FWDUSA) is a group for pilots with diabetes that provides a venue for them to collaborate, fly together, share their distinct experiences, and support others with diabetes who want to fly.

This year's annual get together and Diabetes Flight will take place on the east coast between Friday, October 13th and Sunday, October 15th 2017. The flight will begin in Frederick, Maryland (KFDK), and will fly south along the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic coast to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina (KFFA), the site of the first airplane flight, before proceeding north to New York City and then returning to Frederick. The team plans to establish a new world speed record over the first leg of the course from Frederick to Kitty Hawk.

Until 1997, piloting by individuals with insulin treated diabetes was completely prohibited throughout the world due to concerns of the dangers of low blood sugar during flight. With the advances in easy to use, portable blood sugar monitoring devices, and an intensive pre and in-flight blood sugar monitoring regimen, in 1997 pilots with well controlled insulin treated diabetes were allowed by the FAA to obtain medical certificates for private piloting.

In July 2016, third class medical reform was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama. Under these regulations, called BasicMed, which took effect this year, there has been a substantial easing of the ongoing regulatory requirements for non-commercial flying with diabetes and other safely manageable medical conditions.

Several other countries also allow piloting by individuals with tightly controlled insulin treated diabetes including Canada, Great Britain, and Australia. Canada has even allowed some pilots with insulin treated diabetes to fly commercially when using a rigorous blood sugar monitoring procedure, and the United Kingdom has recently updated its regulations to allow this as well.

FWDUSA has several goals:

  • To provide a venue for pilots with diabetes to collaborate and share their distinct experience.
  • To raise diabetes awareness and funds for JDRF to support diabetes research.
  • To set an example for people with diabetes that tight management of their condition using a sensible management plan and modern diabetes management tools can allow them to safely do things they may have been told or assumed were out of reach, and to encourage them to tightly manage their diabetes.
  • To demonstrate that pilots with diabetes can safely fly challenging flights using the FAA’s protocol for private flying with insulin-dependent diabetes.
  • To illustrate how advances in diabetes monitoring and management make management of diabetes in flight a straightforward, safe, and simple part of flight operations.

Diabetes need not limit the scope of people’s dreams and ambitions.