This week I headed up to the “Mach Loop” in Snowdonia to take pictures of the RAF practising their low level flying, it had been 15 months since I was last there due to work levels over the past year and 12 months since I last went to a lowfly area.
The trip was cut short by a day at the start of the week and a day at the end of the week due to the awful welsh weather, the weather however while we were in the hills was ok good with not much rain though mainly overcast skies and lots of wind! There was so much wind at times standing up was difficult. The traffic was a little slow on all of the days and was mainly hawks this was due to RAF valley being on nights this week and 3 squadrons of Tornado GR4s overseas on training or operational duties.
On the first day we were still being battered by really strong winds which made it difficult to stand up at times and was very cold, though at times the sun was out. I was expecting to blank due to the wind but thankfully we had 3 hawk passes though the hawks were being thrown around by the wind as the flew down the valley towards the sea!
On the second day the wind was significantly lower and there were a lot of people on Cad West, we were given a heads up about a pair of USAF F15-Cs heading to Wales for one of the pilots last flights in the UK but due to the low cloud base in the morning the pilots could not find a place to drop into low level so unfortunately we didn’t see them despite the pilots best efforts. After this it got to 2pm and we still hadn’t seen anything and were very happy to see a Tornado GR4 blasting out of one of the other valleys and turn towards us for a great pass. After that we had 3 hawk passes until everyone else left the hill and as we were staying so local stayed up for another hour or so and were rewarded for this by another 2 hawk passes, though the light had dropped off significantly and I was using ISO3200 for it!
On the final day the weather was the best of the week, despite still being overcast most of the time there was no wind at all and for most of the day I didn’t need to wear a jacket it was so warm. Unfortunately as with the previous two days the traffic was slow and we had four hawk passes but one of them was one of the best hawk passes I have seen as the jet was so low it was amazing to see.