Introduction to the Mach Loop

The Mach Loop is a set of valleys, situated between Dolgellau in the north, and Machynlleth 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.
Map of Mach Loop

To the south of the Mach Loop there is an area called Tactical Training Area 7T, in which, at specified times, the aircraft may fly as low as 100 feet (30.5 Metres). The Royal Air Force publish a timetable of when the Tactical Training Areas may be in use, however experience shows this to be of little use in determining whether low level flying will take place on a particular day or time.

Low flying is an vital skill for military aircrew, and the Royal Air Force uses various areas of the United Kingdom for low level flight training. The United Kingdom is split into 18 low flying areas, (or “LFAs”), the LFA’s being numbered 1-19 (strangley there is no LFA15). The Ministry of Defence website has a map showing the location of the low fly areas. The Mach Loop is located within LFA7, which covers the whole of Wales, except for a small section in the north-east of Powys, which is within LFA9.

35 Replies to “Introduction to the Mach Loop”

  1. Hi Rob,

    Thanks for the kind words. The site as you can see, is still very much in its infancy, but we will be looking to expand upon an encouraging start.

    Sure! The map is a very impressive representation – good work! We couldn’t find a link back to a creator, so gladly attribute it to yourself (bottom right corner), now it is clarified!


  2. Think that visitors to the site should be reminded that when visiting the areas; they should be considerate to the owners of the fields and not block entrance gates. One farmer has had one his fences broken to make it easier to get over!!!!

    There is also complaints about the litter that is being left.

    Nice site btw

    1. Very valid comment, David.
      Courtesy and respect should be shown to land owners and other visitors to the area.

  3. Hi all am going to Mach loop next year just won’t to know were the best place is so,I can go camping there were do you get the frequency from please thank you

  4. Hi Leigh,

    Where to go is very much dependent on what you are looking to achieve. If you are looking at taking photos of aircraft, the location would very much depend on the equipment you have available. Personally, I’d recommend a trip to Cad West ( for your first trip.

    Some common Air/Ground frequencies you can try:
    278.000 NATO Low level
    280.350 West ICF
    292.525 Lichfield

    Enjoy your trip and have a safe journey.

  5. Hi am planning to visit the mach loop cad west this week have looked on the timetable but have heard to ignore this, is it just turn up and wait or can anyone inform me of flying times this week (22-26th Oct 20212) Thank you

    1. Hi Martyn,

      There is no timetable as such. To be fair, it is hit and miss as to whether you will see anything, but if you do, it sure makes it worthwhile!

      Enjoy your trip!

  6. Hi,

    The Machloops are on my list for 2013! I’m considering to visit the loops in July (week before or after RIAT). Will this be a month with many activity or should I chose another month ? I know the loops are a gamble with traffic but if I know in advance that traffic will be low I chose another period to visit.

    Thanks in advance,

    Dennis Muller

    1. Hi Dennis,

      There really is no set schedule to flights through ‘the loop’ unfortunately. We’ve visited during a snowy, cloudy February day and seen more traffic than on a sunny spring day – it really is swings and roundabouts.

      Certainly if you are attending RIAT, it is always worthwhile speaking to the visiting aircrew from some of the northern UK bases who may be routing to/from via the Mach loop. We hear departures day on the Monday can result in such traffic.

      Best of luck!

  7. Good Evening/Morning ..

    Firstly, my congratulations on a Great Site ..
    The Resources here are excellent.

    Secondly, You may need to go over all of your Links.
    The MOD website is Virtually gone now to be replaced by a GOV Website (Now we’ll see it go down in information & reliability)

    1. Steve,

      Many thanks for letting us know about this. We will begin updating the links over the coming weeks!

  8. Hi,
    Myself & 2 friends are planning to visit in August 2013, we were going to stay over night in a camper van to get an early start, Can anyone say if weekends or good or is it better during the week,
    thank you regards John

    1. Hi John,

      There is no guarantee of seeing movements, regardless of the day of week. Generally however, you have a much greater chance of seeing low level activity on a weekday.

      Enjoy your trip!

  9. Evening all, me and my dad are heading to cad west as part of a trip to see family and my 21st, we will be there on Friday 8th August, just curious as we will be on bikes and I am unsure where to leave the bikes and helmets and jackets etc as don’t wanna be getting to hot!! Can anyone give us good tips on where to stand to watch or get good photographs?? We will be coming in from Chester area and have sat nav on the bikes, is there a local postcode to the best spot/car park??

    Thanks in advance


  10. Hi Which is the best viewing area and do you have coordinates to drive too and park up Thanks


  11. Great resource, I’ll be using it to plan my visit in July.

    I am looking to visit the loop the monday after RIAT 2016. Historically speaking is there much traffic following RIAT?

  12. We have the low flying schedule and I have a son who’s 8 and in a wheelchair. Can he view the jets anywhere ? Don’t want to get his hopes up if it’s not possible thank you

  13. Is this site still “live”?
    I only ask because I notice the last two comments from 2015 have not been answered.

  14. I am planning to visit the machloop later on this week with my father. While still fairly mobile, he is 75 now so climbing up the side of a mountain is not really a possibility even if it is to see the low flying.
    Where would I be best to situate us in order to get a good view of the aircraft without needing a sherpa.

    I appreciate all of your help.

    1. Hi Phil,

      Other than considering parking up in one of the car parks and viewing from ground level, you could consider Cad West. This would offer you a steadily-rising climb, and one in which you do not need to reach the top in order to get a decent view [if there are any movements].

      All the best, hope you get plenty of [air] traffic!

      1. Thank you for your help – greatly appreciated. That will save us having to climb cadair idris!

  15. Hi, congratulations on a great site.
    My son and I will be making a trip from Chester to the machine loop on Monday and from the comments I see that cad West I’d the place to go. What’s the postcode for there and once there where’s the best place to go (do we just walk up the nearest hill or are there designated viewing points?) many thanks.


  16. Hi
    As i am new to aircraft photography,i was thinking of going to the mach loop.
    Can any one advise my the best lens for the job.I own a canon 7d mk2 with a canon 70-300 IS L lens,also sigma 150-500 and a canon 18-135.
    Your advise on what lens to use would be appraciated.
    Many thanks.

  17. Hello,
    I plan to come in the near future in this place ….
    would you some tips to get there (I live in Belgium) what is the easiest (I thought coming by plane and attérir either Liverpool or Birmingham) and then by train, bus, rent a car?

  18. I am disabled and cant walk more than 100 meters, is there anywhere that I could park and take photos?

    1. Hi Ian,

      There are car parks within close distance to most of the popular viewing spots.

      Your best bet would be to park either in the Bwlch car park, or Cad West. The former does get rather busy, but offers a greater vantage point.
      It is worth noting that the farmer requires access to the fields, so please everyone, be considerate and don’t block the gate (or leave litter).

  19. Hi to all!,
    Can anyone tell me what the average number of active days would be to ensure seeing some low flying days? Thus, if jets only fly the loop an average of 3 days a week, then I would know I could bring my family to Wales for a week long visit and we would see some activity. If weeks pass with no activity, I would modify the length of our visit.
    Thank you!
    Great website!!

  20. Hi everybody,
    I’m going to Mach Loop in April, anyone knows a place where can I rent a bike?
    Thank you

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