Posted by Glyn and Claire
With an aim to get just one plane in a frame….and if it was in focus that would be a bonus….six hardy souls met at stupid o’.clock and piled into Andy’s Zafira for a trip to the Mach Loop. Inspired by talks from Martin Kessel and Andy himself, days (and nights) off were booked, toilet rolls were packed and it was off to the sunny Welsh hills (mountains!) on a warm Friday morning.
A cosy journey ended in a glorified lay-by atop a steep road somewhere near Dogellau and Machyllneth at the Mach loop. We looked up and saw our final destination… and then looked further up as we somehow decided to head to the top. There ended up being three tiers of people waiting for planes to come through with a variety of equipment and only one other gentleman from Basingstoke joined us at the top. The climb wasn’t too steep, but wouldn’t be for everyone, particularly as you’re lugging up camera equipment as well as food and drink. And it was dry when we went too – as I’d imagine things could get pretty slippy if it was raining, so do be warned!
Other people had dragged flags, chairs and scanners up there too…. but they wimped out on lower levels… pahh! We did of course keep an eye on those with scanners, particularly the chap who became known as ‘Scanner Man’ -when he got up, we got ready too… .but…. his information wasn’t always correct…. so he got some comedy abuse from above. ‘Sleepy Chair Man’…. well, you can guess what he got up to for most of the day…..
Now, when you go to the Mach Loop, there’s a strong possibility that no planes will come through as they practice their low level flying, so we knew we could be in with a chance of getting only landscape shots. It is really nice up there though and, I have to say, there was a great spirit of comraderie between us with lots of laughter, so if nothing came through it would still have been worth it. But we did get some planes coming through with Andy and Basingstoke Man on our ledge telling us what they were. And then other people reminding us when we put pictures on our facebook page.…
There were some long waits inbetween planes but we just enjoyed the scenery, had a laugh and relaxed in a wonderful setting sharing food and drink…. while occasionally going off to use the toilet…. ahem…. ‘facilities.’ And inbetween all that frivolity and necessity yes we did get the aforementioned planes including five Hawks at the same time, a Tucano, a Tornado and an MC130 which made Martin (and others!) quite jealous. There were other planes and a helicopter zooming around who didn’t come through the loop… .gits! As you can tell…. I’m not a planes expert….
Each time we saw a plane coming we would have just a few seconds to jump up and get ready for some high-speed panning so obviously the pilots would wait until one or more of us were eating. They did manage to avoid toilet trips though which was nice but those trips were mostly made with cameras anyway….. nothing gets past Willfielders!
So, yes, high-speed panning qnd keeping that pan going after you’ve taken the shot or shots…… high on a windy Welsh mountainside….. with other people getting in your way (unintentionally of course!). But…. I’ve seen some fantastic shots from Claire, Rob and Dave; and I saw some excellent shots on the back of Andy’s camera (update-Andy has now posted some excellent pictures!) so the original aim was definitely met and beaten for those I’ve seen and I’m sure John will have some great images too. I even got one or two myself which I am thrilled with!
So if you’re firm of foot and have some great company…. get yourself to Wales! Go early or you won’t get a parking spot. Take some food, drink, toilet rolls and don’t forget your cameras. Keep your eye on scanner man but expect nothing…. and hopefully you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
We moved on to Bala Lake which is well worth a visit afterwards.