Many fans of aviation and photography have had the opportunity to attend airshows to take excellent photos. There are those who have that opportunity daily.
Mach Loop: fighters flying between the mountains of Wales
There are two mountains in the world where airplanes pass so close to the ground that you can see them without having to look up. One of them is in the United Kingdom, specifically in Wales. A few kilometers north of the small and beautiful city of Machynlleth there are some valleys that are known as Machynlleth Loop (the Circuit of Machynlleth), although among the aviation fans this area is known as Mach Loop (Mach is the name that aeronautics gives at the speed of sound). This curious name is due to the fact that this area is designated as «Low Flying Area». This means that military aircraft can fly at that site at less than 2,000 feet (609 meters) and at a maximum speed of 450 knots (833 km/h), from 08:00 to 23:00 hours on weekdays. In the town of Dolgellau there is a small parking lot on the A487 road that runs through that valley, located just in front of the top most used by people to see the passage of airplanes. Here is its location on Google Maps:
In Google Street View you can see the following image of that valley, with the parking lot full of cars and people on the top (above, on the right) waiting to see the airplanes pass.
This area is usually flown by fighters of the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the United States Air Force (USAF) which is based at RAF Lakenheath, in the eastern part of Great Britain. Is it worth going there? Watching this video of Dafydd Phillips you can get an idea:
In this other video of Antony Loveless you can see the flight through the Mach Loop aboard a Eurofighter Typhoon fighter of the RAF. The video was recorded by a British military pilot, Jamie Norris.
Star Wars Canyon: fun for aviation fans in Death Valley
The other ideal place to see war planes at high speed is in the United States, specifically in the interior desert of California. In Inyo County there is a town called Darwin that only has about fifty inhabitants. It could aspire to be one of the most boring places in the world if it were not because to the northeast of its dilapidated houses is the Rainbow Canyon, in the heart of the Death Valley National Park.
Although the Rainbow Canyon has a very nice name, this place is known among the military itself as Star Wars Canyon. Since World War II it is used to train pilots on low-altitude flights at high speed. It is usually frequented by fighters and other types of aircraft from Nellis (Nevada) and Edwards (California) air bases, and it is not only easy to see planes from the USAF, the US Navy or the Marines, but also from NASA and foreign air forces attending the Red Flag exercises. The area is designated as R-2508 by the United States Armed Forces. The flight through the canyon is nicknamed Jedi Transition, which gives an idea of how many Star Wars fans there are among the US military. On these lines you can see its location on Google Maps. It is possible to access the area on Highway 190. Next to that road and looking north, towards the Star Wars Canyon, is the Father Crowley viewpoint, from which you can see the passage of the airplanes, as you can see in This video from MotorSavage:
AirshowStuff published last year this video that shows us the flight through the Star Wars Canyon seen from the cockpit of an F/A-18A+ Hornet:
Main photo: GTFErinyes.
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