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Diabetic Pilot Regains His Wings

After a nine-year hiatus, Southwest Airlines Captain Bob Halicky was back behind the controls of a commercial airliner. The June 22 flight from Las Vegas to Seattle is significant because the 59-year-old became the first U.S. airline pilot with Type 1 diabetes to captain a commercial flight.

In 2011, at the age of 50, Captain Halicky received his diagnosis, and Federal Aviation Administration rules at the time prohibited people with insulin-treated diabetes from flying commercial airliners. The FAA declared that it was too high risk. The American Diabetes Association partnered with several other organizations to encourage the FAA to reconsider. In November 2019, the FAA said that “the advancement of medical technology” means pilots with insulin-treated diabetes could apply for the first-class medical certificate that is required to fly commercially.

Halicky received his certificate in April and quickly completed the requalification course. He is very excited to be flying again, and called his accomplishment “a huge uplift to the diabetes community.”