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The 'Mach Loop' In 13 Pictures

1) The Mach Loop is a series of valleys in west-central Wales used for military training. It's named after the town of Machynlleth, which is south of the loop.


2) Aircraft regularly fly as low as 250 feet through the loop.


3) At speeds over 450 knots.


4) The steep walls of the Welsh valleys give photographers countless spots to get higher than the aircraft that are flying by.


5) An area south of the loop, called the Tactical Training Area, allows aircraft to fly as low as 100 feet.


6) The Loop is used primarily by the Royal Air Force.


7) But US aircraft stationed in the UK use it as well.


8) This is an almost perfect spot for pilots to hone their low-level flying techniques, as well as the use of terrain-following radar.


9) There is a published timetable of when the Mach Loop is in use.

Jez B

10) Panavia Tornados from the Royal Air Force are regularly seen flying the loop.

Jez B

11) As well as Eurofighter Typhoons.

Jez B

12) USAF F-15E Strike Eagles, based at RAF Lakenheath, are often spotted training in the loop as well.

Peng Chen

13) With countless miles of valleys to observe from, this might be the best plane spotting location on the planet.

Peng Chen

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Colin Cutler

Colin is a Boldmethod co-founder, pilot and graphic artist. He's been a flight instructor at the University of North Dakota, an airline pilot on the CRJ-200, and has directed development of numerous commercial and military training systems. You can reach him at

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