Flying out on the Iditarod Trail is one of the most fun aviation adventures you can have. If you follow common sense, flight regulations and some basic rules you’ll have the experience of a lifetime. Here are a few of the many things to keep in mind:
1. Plan in advance. If you do your homework, you’ll have a blast. Flying on the Iditarod is one of the most fun aviation experiences you can have….when it goes according to plan. So have a good plan and stick to it.
2. Be self sufficient. While people are invariably helpful, the Iditarod taxes the resources of many of the bush communities. Plan to be self sufficient. Either bring it along, or arrange for it in advance. This includes preheating, oil, fuel, lodging, food and warmth.
3. Be courteous. If a tie down looks occupied, it probably is – don’t use it. Give the dog teams plenty of room. Don’t park blocking other aircraft. Don’t plug into other aircraft’s power without permission. We are all guests along the trail.
4. Keep a distance from dog teams. Don’t buzz the teams. If landing along the trail, give it some room. Plan your take off and landing so as not to be next to a dog team – especially at high power settings.
5. Fly to the right on the trail. Also, while you’re watching that dog team, keep at least one eye open for other aircraft; there are lots of them out there. Especially south of the Alaska range.
6. Light up. Show whatever lights you have. Especially south of the Alaska range.
7. Adhere to local flight patterns and frequencies as published in the supplement.
8. File flight plans. Make sure someone knows where you are going to be and when to expect you. Fly as filed in your flight plan!
9. Leave time for weather. The distances are long and weather reporting is spotty in areas. Weather can change quickly, especially along the coast and in the Alaska range. Don’t put yourself into an emergency situation.
10. Fuel is not generally available in the smaller checkpoints. Don’t plan on fuel being available unless you have checked specifically for that location and know that it is.
11. Don’t (!!!!) land off airport on wheels!! It might work, but…..you might be gaining a whole new perspective on the world. In many of the communities, the airports are a ways out of town and most pilots will be operating off a river or lake….on skis. Don’t be tempted!
12. Operate within your limits. Know the limitations of your airplane and skills. You will be flying around some of the most skilled bush operators in the world with the best equipment money can buy. Use your limits, not theirs.