March 09, 2008

The Iditarod Airforce

The mushers and the dogs get all the press while the people that make the race possible toil passionately in the background. Be it the veterinarians, check point workers, or officials. For most of the villages the race becomes an annual celebration and the town turns out to make sure that every musher is fed and cared for along the trail.
Landing in Shaktoolik

One group that is vital to the success of the race is the Iditarod Airforce. Volunteer pilots that donate their time and planes to the race to ensure that the teams are supplied with everything from food to straw for every dog team at every checkpoint. The Pilots are required to have 1000 hrs of flight time, 500 hrs of Alaska time and 100 hrs of winter and ski operations.
Hauling dropped dogs.

This year they will move over 169,000 lbs of dog food, 1950 bales of straw, enough for each team to have fresh straw at every checkpoint, 14500 lathes to remote checkpoints for the trail breaks to mark the trail, distribute 1500 cases of Heet, fly 48 veterinarians that monitor the athletes, fly 101 race judges, the Director of Competition and logistics, photographers, insider personnel and dog handlers continually up the trail who support the race. It is a tremendous undertaking but is performed with the skill and precision of a military operation.

Hauling food and supplies
Rohn River landing strip.

How do you fuel a team of dogs from Anchorage to Nome?
Heet, lots and lots of Heet!!!

Pictures and statistics courtesy of : The Iditarod Airforce

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