The hills are alive...

23rd June 2013
with the sound of Pratt and Whitney.. :-)
After the disastrous start to the year and a hideous week at work in London, I decided to take a week off and head to Wales for some low level aircraft photography. Arriving first thing on Monday morning, I set up camp then headed off to the hills. Not fancying a big climb on the first day, I opted for the Mill, which you can drive to. I say drive to but you still have to climb a little way up a hill if you want to get above the jets. Once in place I turned the scanner on and made a cup of tea, light wasn't great but it wasn't that bad either and before long I had a few of Marhams finest on the scanner, calling up for some low level flying.

The view from my perch...

It wasn't that long of a wait before one of the Marham Tornado's which I had heard earlier on the scanner came into sight..

20 minutes later another one popped into view,the light was pretty flat but I wasn't complaining, this was a great start to the day.

I was just having a quick check through my images when I received a text message from my good mate Rob asking where I was. Rob was already set up on Cad West and as I was on my own I decided to move and meet up with him. A mad dash to Cad in the car and then a huge climb, which I hadn't really planned on for my first day, left me out of breath and sweating like a pig but thankfully I hadn't missed any aircraft movements during the change over. Camera gear out of the bag, I had just about recovered from the climb, when Rob shouted incoming..

11 Sqn Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4

Next to come around the corner was another Eurofighter Typhoon, this time from 6 Sqn.

This was turning into a Red letter day and it was looking like it was going to get even better, when we heard some F15's calling up for low level. Unfortunately all of the passes were high and if you recall from one of my older news stories, I mentioned that they do this from time to time. I was a little disappointed but I couldn't really complain as it had been a good day and with a few Hawks near the end coming through, it softened the blow of the high F15 passes..

Tuesday, I decided to head to Corris Corner for the morning and then move to Cad West in the afternoon, The weather was stunning, the sun was out and there wasn't a breathe of wind so after setting up, I sat back and took in the views. Looking down on the lake, I noticed a few fisherman setting off in their boats for a bit of fly fishing, I've never seen the lake so calm..

The light was so good, I was praying something would turn up but I was stunned when I heard the Americans on the scanner and they were the C model fighter variant. This was too good to be true and I had a feeling I was going to be disappointed with more high passes. With fingers crossed and the sound of jets in the distance, I got ready hoping they would be low..

The next 20 minutes or so were unbelievable with so many passes I lost count..

Coupled with the multiple passes, I also got 2 vertical pull outs by them, what an awesome sight and sound..

A superb start to the day...

A few hours went by before one of the local Hawk trainer jets put in an appearance.

The change over time was fast approaching and it's always one of those 'do I, don't I?' decisions. You don't want to miss anything but you know you have to do it. I was just about to pack the camera away when a twin stick Typhoon from 29 Sqn come blasting around the corner.

Right, I'm going for it I thought, with the camera packed, I was scrambling down the hill to the car for another mad dash to Cad West. Half way up Cad West my legs were like jelly,a quick rest before the final push to the top and thankfully I hadn't missed anything, lady luck was with me this week.
I was thinking to myself, there is no way the morning could be improved upon, but how wrong was I when out of the blue came a pair of Tornado's screaming over Bala, heading straight towards Cad.

Then another Tornado came screaming through - this one being from 617 Sqn the Dambusters and a first capture for me at low level..

then another one! I couldn't believe this..

Next, I heard the Americans on the scanner,C models again! Surely not I thought, my luck can't be this good. Sure enough within 25 minutes of hearing them on the scanner, they appeared from Bwlch, turning straight for Cad..

They put in some great passes and the flight lead gave us a superb vertical climb out on his last pass....

Buzzing and a few memory cards full of images I headed back to the campsite,
that was by far my best ever day in the hills since I had started going back in 2009..

I won't bore you with the in's and out's of the next few days but it was more of the same. Rob did a rough tally up of the 4 days and it was near on a 100 passes. Unheard of in this day and age what with all the cost cuts..

Here's a few more images from what was an awesome week of low level photography..

Wednesday was spent on the Exit which saw a few passes by 617Sqn the Dambusters..

then some of Marhams Tornado's showed up..

Some Valley Hawks popped in as well.

and unbelievably more F15Cs from the 493d Grim Reapers..

Thursday I went to Corris and Cad West again, we only got one pass by, a Hawk on Corris but the afternoon session on Cad West saw more F15Cs turning up..

Wow! what a week that was, a big thanks to Rob for the great company over the 4 days and to all the aircrews who put on a great show.

Thanks for looking...