It has been a long hard road for Captain Bob Halicky. The Southwest Airlines Captain who was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes in 2011, ending his days of flying for the airline.
But the new FAA medical protocols dealing with diabetes finally allowed Captain Halicky to operate passenger flights again.
On Monday, Captain Halicky, captained his first Southwest Airlines flight after nine years.
Just before 7:30 a.m. on June 22, Southwest Airlines flight 370 lifted off from McCarran International Airport, climbing westward over the Las Vegas Strip with Captain Bob at the controls.
Banking north, the twin-engined Boeing 737-700 with the airline’s ubiquitous blue, yellow and red livery leveled off at its cruising altitude of 40,000 feet for its flight to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
For the passengers on board, it was a normal flight, landing twelve minutes early.
But a different experience for Halicky, who has waited nine years for this opportunity.
This is the first United States commercial flight with a pilot with insulin-treated diabetes at the controls, according to the American Diabetes Association, a milestone years in the making.
Captain Bod during an interview revealed how happy he was after the flight.
“It was super exciting to return to the cockpit and also to be the first ever type 1 insulin dependent pilot in America to fly commercially.”
For years now, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) didn’t allow pilots with insulin-treated diabetes to fly commercial airliners, even as other countries like Canada and the United Kingdom began to ease their restrictions, allowing these pilots to fly commercially provided they did so with a second pilot.
The FAA deemed it too high risk. Any pilot diagnosed with insulin-treated diabetes was barred from flying commercially.
The American Diabetes Association, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and other organizations lobbied the FAA to re-examine their policy.
Last November, the FAA announced that pilots with insulin-dependent diabetes could apply for the first-class medical certificate required to fly commercially. Under the new guidance, the first batch of medicals was issued in April.