Which Air-band radio scanner?

The best Air-band radios/scanners on the market offer you the ability to receive a variety of transmissions, including transmissions from military aircraft such as Air-Air, Ground-Air and Air-Ground.

Cheap air-band radios can be bought for as little as £20, although in most cases, this will limit your ability to pick-up communications to just Civilian/Commercial aircraft. That however, doesn’t mean you can’t get an affordable Air-band scanner that will allow you to hear military comms such as on the NATO Low Fly frequency 278.000.

Which scanner should I buy?

Deciding which Air-band radio to buy largely depends on its intended use and how much you can afford to pay. If you intend to visit the Mach loop for example, you’d need a relatively good all-round scanner with the ability to receive military aircraft transmissions – the UHF aircraft band (225-400MHz) – in order the comms of aircraft in the area.

If you aren’t intending to use the scanner for military tranmissions, a cheaper scanner with less features and the ability to receive VHF aircraft band (108-137MHz) will generally suffice.

Always bear in mind, valleys and low-flying aircraft will not provide you with 100% coverage, but this adds to the enjoyment and spontaneity of a last-minute ‘incoming!’ shout.

View our Mach loop frequencies page if you already have a scanner and want to know which channels to tune-in to!

Popular scanners for the mach loop:
Uniden Bearcat 125XLT
Uniden 3500XLT
Yupiteru 7100

An example of what you can expect to hear is demonstrated in this Youtube video!

Best DSLRs for aviation photography

The mach loop draws-in professional and amateur photographers due to the fine opportunities to test their aviation photography skill to the limits. The best DLSR cameras for military aircraft such as fast jets and helicopters depends on whether you are taking photographs for enjoyment or to earn money, or even a social media following.

The Loop offers an almost unrivalled location in which to photograph military aircraft doing their thing. Some of the photographs taken by visitors to the loop over the years are simply incredible. It is very rare to find such a mix of backdrops, mixed with aircraft travelling at around 450 Knots and mostly under 500 feet – you can even see the pilots and navigators in some cases!

Which digital SLR?

Whether you are a Nikon or Canon diehard, or simply enjoy taking videos and photographs with your phone, the loop makes it an enjoyable experience!

In time, we will begin to build up this page with more information on the most common camera settings, along with recommended camera and lens combos for a variety of budgets. Bear with us whilst we work on that!

Camera bodies

The best camera for aviation photography is one that adapts to a variety of situations. So, the ability to manually set Shutter Priority mode and Aperture priority mode are vital.

The best cameras for aviation photography needs to have all of the modes needed for different situations, such as Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority.

Canon entry-level DSLR: Canon EOS 450D, Canon EOS 750D, Canon EOS 800D

Canon mid-range DSLR: Canon EOS 70D, Canon EOS 7D

Canon advanced/pro level DLSR: Canon EOS 5D, Canon EOS-1D

Nikon entry-level DSLR: Nikon D3300, Nikon D3400, Nikon D5600

Nikon mid-range DSLR:
Nikon D7200, Nikon D500,

Nikon advanced/pro DSLR: Nikon D810, Nikon D750

Camera lenses

C17 goes low level through Mach Loop

A C17 from the 315th Airlift Wing (315 AW) set history on 7th July 2017 by being the first to fly the type through the Mach Loop.

Mach loop enthusiasts set twitter alight, sharing their images and video with the twittersphere.

RIAT 2017

We are fast approaching this year’s Royal International Air Tattoo, held between 14-16 July at RAF Fairford. Tickets for the Saturday have already sold out, showing the appetite for the Cotswolds event continues to prove extremely popular with families and aviation enthusiasts alike. Continue reading “RIAT 2017”

F35 Lightning II Low level in North Wales

2nd May saw yet another Mach loop first, this time being a USAF F35 Lightning II! Although the UK has opted for the F35-B (STOVL), it gave the UK its first glimpse of F35 low level action.

A400-M ‘Atlas’ does the loop

An A400-M ‘Atlas’ from the Royal Air Force’s 70 Squadron visit the Mach loop for the very first time. The aircraft is the successor to the RAF’s aging C130-K ‘Hercules’ fleet, providing an upgraded tactical airlift and strategic oversize transport capability.


Best Camera settings for aviation photography

Wondering which camera settings to use for the best aviation photography images? Trial and error, mixed with good fortune is the usual rule of thumb. However, following these basic aviation photography tips will point you in the right direction!

Remember, the shutter speed is largely determined by the image you want to capture. If you want a crystal-clear shot of a fast jet, you want to ‘freeze’ the aircraft in time with a high shutter speed. If you are after a full-disk prop blur, a lower shutter speed will facilitate this.

Camera settings for fast jets such as Hawk, Tornado and Typhoon

TV / Shutter priority
Metering: Evaluative
Focus: Auto
Shutter speed: 1/1000s, or as low as 1/640-800s for a Hawk
Blurry background: Drop down to ~1/500s!
ISO: 400 or less
Nb: Don’t be too trigger happy, take shots in bursts of 2 or 3, to avoid shutter lag.

Camera settings for helicopters such as Apache, Chinook, Merlin and Wildcat
TV / Shutter priority
Metering: Evaluative
Focus: Auto
Shutter speed: 1/100s to 1/200s
ISO: 400 or less
Focus: Single or multi-point

Camera settings for prop aircraft such as Hercules, King Air and Tucano
TV / Shutter priority
Metering: Evaluative
Focus: Auto
Shutter speed: 1/250s
ISO: 400 or less
Focus: Single or multi-point

Generally speaking, the higher the ISO, the noisier the photo. Keeping below ISO 400 (where possible) will keep this to a minimum, but is of course dependent on light conditions.

Your aperture should ideally be one stop down from the lenses max e.g. for a f/5.6 lens you’d want ~f/8.

Track the aircraft at the earliest and steadily pan/follow it, keeping it centred as much as possible whilst partially pressing the shutter to engage the auto-focus.

Bear in mind, the lower the shutter speed, the less ‘keepers’ you are likely to get. It can get incredibly windy on the hillsides!

F22 Raptor first visit to the Mach loop

26th April saw the US Air Force’s stealth fighter, the F22 ‘Raptor’ visit the Machynlleth loop in North Wales for the very first time!

Low level from years gone by