Get up close and personal with low-flying military jets – the Mach Loop (UK)

You don’t have to be a plane spotter to appreciate the spectacle of a modern-day jet fighter in flight. The most advanced and dynamic aircraft ever made, they possess unparalleled midair speed and manoeuvrability.

Of course, given what they’re built for, capturing a glimpse of all that power and grace isn’t easy. Air shows give access, yes, but the views are fairly distant thanks to the necessary safety exclusion zones.

There is, however, one place in the world where the average person can get up close and personal with low-flying military jets. And when we say close, we mean knee-trembling, teeth-chattering and ear-ringing close!

When running low-level flight training, the Royal Air Force and other international military groups (including the USAF) fly their jets down the gauntlet that is Wales’ Dolgellau, Tal-y-Llyn, Machylleth and Dinas Mawddwy valleys. Together these four sparsely populated Snowdonia National Park valleys are known as the “Mach Loop”.

Though a designated “Tactical Training Area’, the public isn’t prohibited from the flight path. At certain points along it, some planes screech past as little as 200 feet away! That adds up to some seriously exhilarating (and noisy) viewing.

Hawks, Harrier Jump Jets, Tornados, Eurofighter Typhoons (from the RAF) and F15s (USAF) have been spotted along the flight path in the past.

The big problem is figuring out when planes will fly. An official timetable is published, but according to the enthusiast-run website LowFlyMedia.com it bears little resemblance to reality.

As well as the best locations to watch (see the video below showing planes from the CAD West site), Low Fly Media also lists local amenities including accommodation, parking and restaurants, making it a good departure point for any planned trip to the area.

Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to…

(Featured image: Steve Snodgrass)