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All the latest news and trip reports from my photography adventures around the U.K and abroad.
Trip Report April 2022.
In April i had my second trip of the year with four days in the Lake District, LFA17, in the hope of capturing low flying military aircraft and an opportunity to try out my new Canon R5 mirrorless camera, attached to my existing Canon EF 500mm f4 lens via an EF to RF Control Ring Mount Adaptor.
The weekend preceding my low flying photography trip i visited two air museums.
Saturday 9th - Jet Age Museum at Gloucester Airport, which is a relatively small museum in comparison to the RAF museums at Cosford and Hendon, but still worth a visit, as it has a wide range of aircraft, engines and restoration projects on display.
Sunday 10th - East Midlands Aeropark, which is located within the grounds of the East Midlands Airport, near to the village of Castle Donington. The Aeropark has an impressive list of exhibits, notably an Avro Vulcan, BAe Hawker Siddeley Nimrod and BAC Lightning to name a few. In addition the museum has a large viewing mound positioned adjacent to the airport's main runway, where one can observe and photograph aircraft unobstructed by the airfield perimeter fence.
If one has an interest in the aviation heritage of the U.K. i thoroughly recommend a visit to both museums. Photographs of my visits will be added to the Aviation Museums ‑ United Kingdom web page in due course.
My visit to the Lake District, LFA17, resulted in a couple of firsts for my U.K. low flying photography hobby.
Monday 11th ‑ Oxford Crag, Patterdale. A dry weather day, but a very tiring day trying to shelter from the strong wind. I was rewarded early afternoon by two Texan T.1 training aircraft from RAF Valley routing down Pasture Bottom and past my location.
Tuesday 12th ‑ Great How, overlooking Thirlmere Reservoir. The visibility and weather was far from ideal, but my perseverance was rewarded with my first Juno HT.1 training helicopter.
Wednesday 13th ‑ Great How. No aircraft were seen and i left the hill after lunchtime due to the deteriorating weather.
Thursday 14th ‑ Place Fell, Patterdale. Not the easiest location to access, due to the steepness of the climb and parts of the hill covered in a large boulder scree. It was a quiet day and looked as though it was going to be another blank (no aircraft seen). Mid‑afternoon this thought was quickly dispelled when i observed multiple aircraft entering Kirkstone Pass. At first i thought they were American F‑15's from Lakenheath, but quickly realised they were four RAF F-35B Lightning's of No. 207 Squadron based at Marham. I have captured low-level images of the F-35 in the States, but this was my first opportunity to capture them in the U.K. Low Flying System. Photographs captured from my trip will be uploaded at UK Low Flying 2022.
Trip report November 2021
Swiss Air Force F/A-18 Hornets in the Lake District. On the 15th November 2021 Swiss Air Force (Schweizer Luftwaffe) F/A‑18C and F/A‑18D Hornets arrived at RAF Leeming, Yorkshire, for the month‑long Exercise Yorknite 2021, which provides the Swiss aircrew with valuable training in low‑level navigation, Air Combat Tactic and Basic Fighter Manoeuvre training, air‑to‑air refuelling and night flying air policing training.
The Swiss deployed to RAF Leeming because Switzerland being a small country with a dense population has limited airspace for low‑level and night flying training compared to the UK. During the months October to March their training is further restricted to only one evening per week due to the risk of avalanches.
Now in its third year the exercise gives the pilots a large percentage of night‑flying hours required for their entire years training and a chance to hone their skills against their RAF and USAF counterparts.
The Swiss brought aircrew and military personnel from all three Hornet fighter squadrons: Fliegerstaffel 11
‘Tigers’ based at Meiringen, Fliegerstaffel 17 ‘Falcons’ and 18 ‘Panthers’
based at Payerne. The aircraft are shared between all three squadrons and have no squadron markings apart from
serial J‑5018 which has the Fliegerstaffel 18 ‘Panthers’ special tail art. In addition this year,
three Eurocopter AS.532UL Cougar helicopters were brought to train at the Electronics Warfare Tactics facility
at RAF Spadeadam, Cumbria.
To maximise my chances of catching the Swiss low‑level i spent the first two weeks of their deployment in the Lake District (Monday 15th to Friday 26th November). The first week i did not see them, maybe due to the unpredictable British weather or their training schedule did not involve any low‑level sorties. The second week all changed, with the Swiss Hornets routing through the Lake District a number of times, the highlight being Thursday 25th November when Fliegerstaffel 18 ‘Panthers’ special tail led a two‑ship formation, which was followed two minutes later by a three‑ship formation. All passes were by the ‘C’ model Hornets. Sadly no Cougar helicopters were seen, but a three‑ship formation was captured by fellow photographers the following week.
Throughout both weeks i was treated to a number of passes by various aircraft from the RAF, Royal Navy and USAF. Photographs captured from my trip will be uploaded during the coming weeks at UK Low Flying 2021.