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Mach Loop, Wales.

Location: Wales

Closest City/town: Dolgellau

Spotter tickets: N/A

Mach Loop is not an Air Show, it's an area in Wales where RAF, USAF and other Air Forces practise low level flying by flying in a system of valleys located in the Snowdonia area of Wales. As they fly in valleys, you climb up the sides of the valleys and take pictures of the planes flying past, at the same level as you are, or lower.

The valleys used to fly in almost form a loop, so standing in one spot you can have the same planes come around multiple times. I'm not going in to go in to details about the area and where to take pictures from, as there are a number of good websites covering this type of information. Here is the link to one of the best websites covering The Loop:

- http://machloop.co.uk/

But I will say this: Everything that these website say about the equipment/clothing needed to climb these steep valley sides, such as clothes, hiking boots etc. are TRUE! Usually, narrow sheep paths are used and with the weather being what it is in Wales, it's usually wet, slippery and cold.

There are never any guarantees that there will be planes flying in The Loop. It's a gamble. There are never any flying going on during weekends so if you plan on going there, I recommend that you set a whole week aside, or at least three days, just to increase your chance of seeing any planes. Weather is a big factor and the area seem to have a weather system of their own, where the weather changes quickly.

Be ready to hit those photo-spots early in the morning! It's a popular place and the few spots available for parking a car are quickly filled up. As we photographers are guests at this amazing photo-area, respect the "rules and guidelines" that apply in the area. If you are not sure what those "rules and guidelines" are, check with the other photographers that you meet there and they will help you out. 

And speaking of help, if you're visiting the Mach Loop for the first time, do what I did at my first visit and ask the more experienced "regulars" for help with picking good spots. They are a very friendly bunch of people and will be more than happy to give advise.

Also expect long periods of waiting. It takes only a few seconds for the planes to pass, but it can be hours between them. And I promise you, it is an adrenalin rush when those planes come flying by.

Mach Loop is a unique place when it comes to aviation photography and I really recommend a visit there. The images you can get are truly spectacular, without the need for super long lenses.

Images from the Mach Loop

USAF F15C Fighting Eagle