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Iditarod Air Force is taking a less is more approach to 2021 Iditarod

Planes at the McGrath airport.
Planes at the McGrath airport.(Patrick Enslow/KTUU)
Published: Mar. 8, 2021 at 7:33 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - By land and air, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race relies heavily on volunteers to make the race happen, and this year they’ll have limited numbers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These smaller numbers mean fewer flights for the Iditarod Air Force.

“Right now, we are trying to get all the volunteers out to the checkpoints,” Chief Pilot of the Iditarod Air Force Edward Kornfield said.

He added most volunteers and veterinarians are staying at one checkpoint, and flights are taking twice the amount of normal material to checkpoints to limit travel.

The Iditarod Air Force has 22 volunteer pilots, using their planes to fly out supplies, volunteers, and equipment to checkpoints during the race.

“We’ve done really well,” Kornfield said. “Everything seems to be on track for what we need to do.”

On Monday afternoon they had six pilots at the McGrath checkpoint, which is low compared to previous years, according to Kornfield.

The gold trail loop also means pilots won’t travel as far with the race looping around Flat and heading to the finish line at Deshka Landing.

During a normal year the Iditarod would finish on Front Street in Nome, but Race Marshal Mark Nordman said the out-and-back race was made in agreement with communities along the trail.

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