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Photos: Alaska Dispatch flies Iditarod Trail

Burke Mees flying into the Rohn checkpoint. March 5, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Burke Mees flying into the Rohn checkpoint. March 5, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Burke Mees at the Rohn airstrip. March 5, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
A Cessna 206 at the Rohn airstrip. March 5, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Loren Holmes

The last run of day three of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race was to be a night flight, shuttling journalists. Conditions for the short hop were high overcast, no moon. Excellent visibility, flat terrain and short distance makes for safe night flying, which won't be true in many locations.

Dark night, no moon meant you could see sled-dog team headlamps from 2,500 feet altitude for 30 or so miles. Saw 10 or 12 teams on the ground along the trail. Could even see the headlamps of the teams coming down from Rohn to Nikolai in the complete darkness of the conditions.

That's the essence of Alaska flying: Even in the vast expanses, everyone kind of stands out in the Bush. You can see the lights from the tiniest headlamps thousands of feet below from distances of even 40 miles. So it feels intimate, despite the vastness. The small-town character of the country's biggest place.

It's a theme worth exploring further.

[FULL STORY] Pilot's log: Flying over the Iditarod Trail