The Mach Loop (also known as the Machynlleth Loop, Welsh: Dolen Mach) is a series of valleys in the United Kingdom in west-central Wales, notable for their use as low-level training areas for fast aircraft. The system of valleys lies 13 km (8 mi) east of Barmouth between the towns of Dolgellau to the north and Machynlleth to the south, from the latter of which it takes its name. The training area is part of the United Kingdom Low Flying System and lies within Low Flying Area 7 (LFA7), which covers all of Wales.[1]

A C-130 passing through the Mach Loop, as photographed from a promontory.
Mach Loop is located in Wales
Mach Loop
Mach Loop

Activity edit

Aircraft seen[by whom?][when?] in the area include Royal Air Force Airbus A400M, Typhoon, Hawk, F-35A/B jets and Texan T1s, as well as U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagles and F-15E Strike Eagles which are based at RAF Lakenheath and MC-130 and V-22 Osprey from RAF Mildenhall.[2] Aircraft from other European nations have been sighted training in the Mach Loop, such as F-16 Fighting Falcons of the Belgian Air Component.[3]

In December 2018 a recommendation was circulated within the Ministry of Defence (MoD) which resulted in a reduction in the number of aircraft using the Mach Loop. Since this time RAF frontline squadrons operating the Typhoon has not flown the Loop. In addition to this all non-UK based aircraft are also prohibited from using the Loop unless part of a UK exercise.[4]

Photography edit

The Mach Loop is among the few places[example needed] in the world where photographers can see combat aircraft flying below them.[5] One popular viewing point is the carpark located on the site of Llyn y Tri Greyenyn.

In virtual aviation edit

It is possible to fly the Mach Loop using a flight simulator. Arguably[according to whom?] the most accurate representation is with Microsoft's Flight Simulator platform, launched in 2020. The simulator streams Bing Maps data to reproduce the contours and appearance of the loop and surrounding countryside with an increasing range of jet aircraft available to make the flight.[citation needed]

An alternative is the FlightGear flight simulator, created by the FGUK community as an add-on for the simulator, which provides the player with the challenge of guiding aircraft at high speed through rings that mark the route. In addition, the scenario has "start" and "finish" points, and each run in the Mach Loop is timed to let the player know the time per lap.[6][7]

The International Virtual Aviation Organisation (IVAO) had an event using the Mach Loop.[8][9]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Mach Loop - UK Low Level Flying by Military aircraft - Mach Loop Wales". Archived from the original on 10 October 2021. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  2. ^ "Loading..." Archived from the original on 16 December 2011. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  3. ^ "Belgian Air Force 1st squadron "Stingers"". YouTube. Archived from the original on 25 September 2016. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  4. ^ "'Mach Loop' (LFA 7) Review of restrictions - a Freedom of Information request to Royal Air Force". 3 March 2020. Archived from the original on 5 August 2021. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  5. ^ Demerly, Tom (17 November 2017). "Is Star Wars Canyon, America's Plane Spotting Jewel, At Risk Of Overuse?". The Aviationist. Archived from the original on 31 July 2019. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  6. ^ "FlightNight 9/8/14 Mach loop challenge". 13 July 2014. Archived from the original on 23 July 2020. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
  7. ^ "Mach loop challenge - Event screenshots and video". 10 August 2014. Archived from the original on 23 July 2020. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
  8. ^ "RAF Valley Real Operations" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 7 February 2022. Retrieved 7 February 2022.
  9. ^ "IVAO Special Operations Department". Archived from the original on 7 February 2022. Retrieved 7 February 2022.

External links edit

52°42′31″N 3°50′42″W / 52.70861°N 3.84500°W / 52.70861; -3.84500