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Low Level Aviation Photographs

By Alan Chadwick

PHOTOS - 2014 PHOTOS - 2011 PHOTOS - 2012 PHOTOS - 2013

The Mach Loop (short for Machynlleth, a town on the edge of the Loop), is the name given to a part of Low Fly Area 7 in Wales. LFA 7 is one of the officially designated areas in the United Kingdom where military aircraft are authorised to fly as low as 250 ft above ground level.  As far as aircraft low level training is concerned, the Mach Loop is a circular anti-clockwise route flown along a series of interlinked valleys in an area inland from the west coast of Wales.  It is bounded by Dolgellau to the north, Dinas Mawddy to the east and Machynlleth to the south (See map).  Aircraft can enter at various part of the Loop and the complete round trip takes 3 minutes in a fast jet and up to 8 minutes in a Hercules!

The Loop sees a variety of military aircraft, the majority being from the RAF ranging from “frontline” aircraft such as the Tornado GR4 and Typhoon to training aircraft such as  Hawk T1 and T2 twin seat jet trainers.  In addition propellor driven Hercules, King Air, Tucano and Grob also use the Loop. The USAF are also frequent visitors flying predominantly the F15E "Strike Eagle", although they refer to the Loop as the “Roundabout”

The Loop is a popular location for aviation enthusiasts providing a rare opportunity to photograph these aircraft as they practice low level flying at speeds of up to 500 knots and as low as 250 feet. By climbing up to natural vantage points in the hills it is possible to photograph the planes as they fly literally beneath your feet.  It is however a hobby akin to fishing - waiting hours on end in all climates for an aircraft to appear round the corner of a hill, and you never know what it will be until you actually see it in the viewfinder

As mentioned in the introduction, being retired means I can spend a couple of days a week in the Loop and I’ve accumulated a large number of photographs since my first visit in August 2010.  Below are a selection of my favourites.

PHOTOS - 2015 PHOTOS - 2016

The Mach Loop

PHOTOS - 2017