EAGLESONG - The Iditarod takes nearly 2,000 volunteers to make sure everything runs smoothly. While most are stationed at checkpoints around the state, some get a bird's eye view of the race.
Diana Moroney is a nine-time Iditarod finisher who now watches the race from above.
"It's fun. You know, every time I'm out flying for it, I think I'd rather be running it. But it's nice to be in a warm airplane and not worry about it. But I miss running it," said Moroney.
She's part of the Iditarod Air Force, a group of about 30 volunteer pilots who fly support for the Last Great Race.
"We transport everything; food, people, supplies, dropped dogs. Scratched dog teams, we've picked those up. Anyone with Iditarod that needs to be moved up the trail, race judges, veterinarians," said Moroney.
Not only are they in charge of getting all the supplies to the checkpoints, they also have to haul out everything that's left behind.
"Once a team goes through a checkpoint, we have to go back in and clean the checkpoint out. So everything has to be taken back out of the checkpoint, not only the people and the dogs and the gear. At the remote checkpoints that's all the trash that's not burnable has to be taken out. So we do it all," said Moroney.
"Basically I'm a three-quarter-ton garbage truck," joked fellow pilot William Mayer.
For the Junior Iditarod, volunteers are drooped off at EagleSong Farm. Like the Iditarod checkpoints, you can't just hop in a car to get there.
"Because of the remoteness of Alaska and the lack of road systems, the only way to get people and supplies out is through small airplanes," said Moroney.
Once supplies are unpacked the pilots have a chance to catch up with old friends as they wait for the first racers to arrive.
"They're wonderful pilots, they look after you. You get to see Alaska every year; you get to fly 100 hours. It's a wonderful thing to do," said Mayer.
"Once you start getting involved with Iditarod, whether you're a volunteer or a musher, it just seems to be addictive. Once you start you almost never can quit," said Moroney.
Pilots get to see a part of the race few people ever will. While it takes a lot of work to get to the remote locations, they wouldn't have it any other way.
KTVA would like to say a special "thank you" to Diana Moroney, who took Heather out flying on her own personal time.
For all of KTVA’s Iditarod 2013 coverage, click here.