Three bodies were found on Iditarod route after 10 military, state trooper, and private aircrafts searched the famous route of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. At 10:22 a.m. on Tuesday morning, the aerial search team found the wreckage of the small airplane that had carried race volunteers 48-year-old Carolyn Sorvoja and 10-year-old Rosemarie Sorvoja, according to a Mercury News report on March 5, 2013.
The third body found in the wreckage of the Cessna 182 was that of the pilot, 59-year-old Pilot Ted Smith. Ted Smith had left Anchorage on Monday morning and was heading with his passengers to Takotna which is more than a quarter of the way into the 1,000-mile Iditarod route.
Takotna is a small village of only 53 people and is located “about 17 miles west of McGrath and 235 miles northwest of Anchorage.” The small airplane had left Anchorage on Monday around 10 a.m. and was reported missing when it had not arrived in Takotna by 4 p.m.
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is the most popular sporting event in Alaska and the annual long-distance sled dog race takes place in early March. The trail consists of harsh landscape of tundra and spruce forests, goes over hills and mountain passes and across rivers and is often accompanied by blizzards, sub-zero temperatures, and a wind chill that can reach −100 °F (−73 °C). During the race, a team of 16 dogs, of which at least 6 must be on the towline at the finish line, cover the treacherous distance from Willow to Nome within nine to 12 days. The Iditarod Trail runs from Willow up the Rainy Pass of the Alaska Range into the sparsely populated interior, and then along the shore of the Bering Sea, finally reaching Nome in western Alaska.
The three bodies found on the Iditarod route were discovered near Rainy Pass. Ted Smith, the pilot, had not filed a flight plan for his small Cessna 182. Ted Smith was an experienced, well equipped pilot and was carrying a personal locator beacon in his vest and an emergency locator transmitter on his airplane. However, neither one of the emergency transmitters sent out a signal.
On Monday, “The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, just before 6 p.m., launched a search with a HC-130 airplane and a helicopter. The aircraft searched for about eight hours along the projected flight route, said the center superintendent, Senior Master Sgt. Robert Carte.”
The wreckage was found at 10:22 a.m. on Tuesday near the 4,000-foot level of Rainy Pass. Searchers were able to land on Rainy Pass to confirm that no one had survived. All bodies were recovered and flown back to Anchorage where autopsies will be performed.