Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Mach Loop

F-15 Strike Eagle flying the Mach Loop
The Mach Loop (also known as the Machynlleth Loop) refers to a series of valleys in the United Kingdom in west-central Wales, notable for their use as low-level training areas for fast jet aircraft. The system of valleys lies 8 miles east of Barmouth and is nestled between the towns of Dolgellau to the north and Machynlleth to the south, the latter of which it takes its name from. The training area is within the Low Flying Area (LFA) LFA7, which covers most of Wales.

Aircraft which use the training area include Royal Air Force Tornado, Typhoon, and Hawk jets, as well as U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles, which are based at RAF Lakenheath in eastern England. - Wikipedia
As you may well imagine, this area of the world is a favorite for aviation photographers and videographers. Looking through Google Images and YouTube (or the Tube o' You as Buck likes to call it) there are some great photos and videos.

I thought today I'd give you a sample of those.

Where is the Mach Loop?
(Great map from AirTeamCanon, you can visit them here.)

What does the terrain look like along the Mach Loop? You can see by comparing the two maps that the Mac Loop generally follows the A487,  A489 and A470 auto routes.

In the following video, watch as the aircraft move off to the southwest, past the photographers. That wee lake in the distance is Llyn Mwyngil (also known as Tal-y-llyn Lake) and is shown on the map above, left of center. (Hhmm, that Strike Eagle looks familiar...)


I didn't have the foggiest idea what this next aircraft was, nor to what country it belongs. I did eventually figure out that it's a Eurofighter Typhoon. Still no idea who it belongs to. But it's a great photo and a cool looking bird. This guy has a lot of great low-level shots.

Typhoon traversing the Loop
Where am I from? Spill? Bueller?

Tornado running the Loop

You can almost read the pilot's kneeboards!

Typhoon bringing the heat.

The Loop, it's where the Hog goes to play!

Harrier, oh yeah!

The big birds like to "Loop" too!

Now I'll bet you're wondering what the Mach Loop looks like from inside the cockpit.

I'm glad you asked!

The Mach Loop. I need to go check that out.


Gadewch i ni hedfan i lawr y dyffryn, yn gyflym ac yn isel! (Welsh - Let's fly down the valley, fast and low!)

Llyn Mwyngil


  1. In re: the mystery Typhoon. I'm pretty sure that's an RAF roundel on the left wing, n'est-ce pas?

    The Loop looks like prime mo-sickle territory, too. How'd I miss that?

    1. I think you're right Buck. I was distracted by that stuff painted underneath the cockpit and missed the wing roundel.


      As for the "mo-sickle" territory, it is way out in Wales. Did you ever get over there?

    2. Not on the bike. But TSMP and I did a couple of weekenders over that way, mostly around the Cardiff area.

    3. Looks to be awfully lovely country out that way.

  2. Hmmmm..No Cessna 172s shown flying the loop. That's odd.

    1. And I looked everywhere for the 172 running the Loop.


  3. Nice... FUN times there... Pity the poor crew chief in the back of the 130 though... :-)

    1. Hhmm, yeah. Anybody in the back is going to have a bit of a sporty ride. Not a lot of windows back there either!

    2. Yep, I'm pretty sure the push over as they crested the ridge, took care of any weight problems they might have had.

  4. Low and fast is always exciting! Focuses the concentration a bit, it does.

  5. The in-cockpit video, I think was a Harrier, (The stuff on the canopy was so they could eject through it. There could be others, but I know the Harrier had that and the speed was about right for them). He was pretty high, probably in the 1000' or so AGL. Very few of the ridges were above him, which means he was still visible to any radar threat looking at him. Which probably means that his Sq Co knew the photographer was going to be in the back seat and warned the pilot not to commit any "sins" on film.

    1. Seems about right for a Harrier.

      Commit no "sins" on film. I like that.

  6. Hi Guys,

    Might I have permission (with appropriate credits) to use some of your pics in a Uni assignment?


    1. I don't own these pics, I put them up under Fair Use. They're for educational / informational purposes, all very non-profit.

      There are a lot of photos out there from the Mach Loop, some in the public domain, others not. Sorry I can't be more helpful Rob.

  7. The Typhoon is from 17 Sqn RAF - based at either Warton or Conningsby - Possibly Warton as it's a Twin-Stick.
    We regularly get to Wave to the Loadies in the C-130s as they Fly past us and recently the A400M.
    The Video is taken from a Hawk Trainer out of RAF Valley


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