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2018 Event Review

Low-flying Area 7, MachLoop, August 2018

Location: Wales, England
Type of event: n/a
Rating out of 10: 10
Low-flying Area 7


In contrast to most other NATO air forces, the Royal Air Force (RAF) still considers tactical low flying as a central task to be fulfilled by its aerial forces. Avoiding enemy radar detection and being able to deploy weapons from low altitudes still remains an important task for its pilots and crews. Therefore, regular training is necessary to enable crews to effectively fly low-level missions. Different "low flying areas" (LFAs) are available in the United Kingdom (UK). No less than 18 LFAs cover the whole of the UK (LFA 1 to LFA 19 – LFA 15 does not exist). LFA 7 in Wales is one of the most used and also the most known to aviation enthusiasts! LFA 14 in the north of Scotland and LFA 17 in the Lake District are also often used training areas. The most spectacular part of LFA 7 (covering the most part of Wales) is often referred to as "the loop" as it is a series of valleys forming a nearly round shape (loop). It is also known as "Mach loop" as of its close proximity to the welsh town Machynlleth. It offers great possibilities for both the aircrews and photographers or spectators. There are quite a few spots where it is possible to watch fast jets going low level, sometimes literally underneath you! A great range of Aircraft can be seen in the loop consisting of most active RAF aircraft. Other services such as the Royal Army, Royal Navy and as well USAFE aircraft can also be seen regularly. During times of exercises or deployments, and even close around UK airshows, visitors from other countries also take advantage of these excellent training opportunities. Aircraft are allowed to operate as low as 250 feet. In some regions (LFA 7T), and only during dedicated times, aircraft are also being allowed to go as low as 100 feet. However, this requires both excellent skills and regular training from the pilots! One would believe that LFA 7 is mostly used by fighter jets, but aside that they may be the most numerous species down there. Helicopters, trainers and also cargo aircraft can regularly be seen. A C-130 Hercules or A400M Atlas going "knife-edge like" through the loop is something extremely exciting to witness! Since the arrival of MV-22 Ospreys in RAF Mildenhall as part of the Air Force Special Operation Command (AFSOC), they can also be seen in the loop from time to time as the nature of their operations requires exactly the skills being trained down there.


Typhoon T3, RAF
Tornado GR4, RAF
A400M Atlas, RAF
Tucano T1, RAF
Hercules C5, RAF
Chinook HC6A, RAF


Report and photography by Mathias Leischner for

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