By Whisper, on May 8th, 2011
I don’t know when I first heard of the Mach Loop, but odds are it was while surfing plane prOn over at Theo Spark’s place.
Let us start this story by saying that the Brits like to fly low. Here in the States, we define low-level or “VR” routes as a series of points laid-out to avoid obstructions and populated areas. In the UK, they have “Low Flying Areas”. LFAs = Brilliant.
Thurman over Scotland, June 2004.
In 2004 I had the opportunity to participate in a Joint Maritime Course, or JMC, while embarked in Enterprise. We mostly flew over the north of Scotland, bombed some rock off the coast, and looked for Nessy from overhead her Loch at 500 feet. We were limited to no lower than 500 feet because some Strike Eagle guys had recently caused an international incident by blowing someone off of a horse. Thanks zoomies. Flying along at the nose-bleed altitude of 500′, it was common to be intercepted by RAF Tornadoes in a low-to-high fashion. (It is assumed that air-to-air training rules have been briefed when operating in the LFAs.)
In preparation for participating in the upcoming Saxon Warrior exercise, I’ve been brushing-up on the procedures for operating in Her Majesty’s airspace. Imagine my delight when it was discovered that Low Flying Area 07 is scheduled for use during the exercise. LFA 07, you see, is home to the Mach Loop, a world famous low level route. There is even a group of photography aficionados that have dedicated a website to promoting it. So why is it called the Mach Loop? (No Mav, we will not be supersonic.)
The Mach Loop is a set of valleys, situated between Dolgellau (pronounced ‘Dol-geth-lie’) in the north, and Machylleth (pronounced ‘Mah-hunth-leth’) in the south (and from which the Mach Loop gets its name), which are regularly used for low level flight training, with flying as low as 250 feet (76 metres) from the nearest terrain.