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Low-Level Flying Photography
Photographic Logs for 2006

(For all these shots, I used my Canon EOS 20D and a Canon EF 100-400mm f4/f5.6 L IS lens 
or a Canon EF 300mm f2.8 L with and without a x1.4 extender).

BAE Systems Hawk 100 demonstrator (ZJ951) in a new paint scheme applied specially for the SBAC show at Farnborough, 
photographed the day before the show on July 14, 2006. 

DSLR x1.6 sensor + Canon EF 300mm f2.8L 1/640 f6.3 ISO 200 -1/3 exposure compensation with a x1.4 extender

Wednesday and Thursday November 1-2, 2006. With high pressure positioned over the most of the country blue skies seemed to be assured, I decided to spend to days in the hills. Unfortunately I was treated to very little low-flying especially on the second day in Wales when there was just the one aircraft low enough.
Left to right: Hawks T.1s (XX325) and operating with BAE Systems (XX330), Harrier GR.9 (ZG862 '94') of 4 Squadron and Tornado GR.4 (ZD747 'AL') in 9 Squadron colours.
Left to right: Tucano T.1s (ZF343 and ZF171)

Tuesday September 26, 2006. I wanted to try this pass in North Wales for the first time. As it is on the main low-level route into RAF Valley and so is mainly used by 4 FTS Hawks of which we got seven in the day. The highlight of the day came right at the end with the F.3.
Left to right: Hawk T.1W (XX235), Hawk T.1 (XX237) with 19(R) Squadron and two images of Hawk T.1A (XX315) also with 19(R) Squadron.
Left to right: An anonymous Hawk and two images of Hawk T.1A (XX317) also with 19(R) Squadron.
Tornado F.3 (ZE755 'YL') in 25 Squadron colours. This aircraft was using callsign 'Gauntlet 12' and is operating from Boscombe Down. Coming through at 16:25 it was on its way for a practice diversion into Valley, which turned out to be an overshoot before returning to base.

Friday September 8, 2006. Back in the Lakes, with an airshow at Leuchars, Scotland due the next day I was hoping to catch some low-level traffic enroute to the show. My hunch paid off, well sort of. A Strikemaster, Merlin and Puma all came up the valley but unfortunately only the Puma was below 500 feet. The other traffic was an autogiro, three Hawks, one from each of the main RAF Hawk squadrons and a Tornado which saved the day. Fridays are often slow.
Left to right: Hawk T.1A (XX303) in 19(R) Squadron colours, Puma HC.1 (XW199) of 33 Squadron and Hawk T.1A (XX194 'CL') of 100 Squadron.
No apologies for four images from the same sequence of shots of Tornado GR.4A (ZA402). The light was stunning at 14:45 and this is not a standard RAF machine but a systems test aircraft operated by BAE Systems out of Warton.

Monday August 7, 2006. One of my best 'Mad Mondays' ever, 7 Tucano's, 4 Hawks and an amazing 14 Tornados in the afternoon, I left the hill at 19:00 today. It looks like Scotland was responsible once again for the increased Tornado traffic today. I say it looks like because Tornado markings are in transition due to the decision to set up a 'Big Wing' for the GR.4/4As. As the aircraft have been frequently moved around from squadron to squadron their squadron markings have struggled to keep pace. It has been decided to drop the squadron markings and codes in favour of a permanent numeric sequence running from '001' (oldest RAF example flying) to '139' (newest still flying). You will see from today's 12 different Tornados the variety of paint colours with markings and codes currently carried during this period of change.
Left to right: Tucano T.1 (ZF142) and then came the Tornados, some as two ships just to add to the challenge of trying to capture both. The first pair of the day with wings unusually swept back; Tornado GR.4 (ZD741 no squadron marks or code) with Tornado GR.4A (ZG705) in 13 Squadron markings and new 'fleet' code '118', both were flying with 14 Squadron from Lossiemouth.
Left to right: Three minutes later came the second pair. Tornado GR.4A (ZA371/C) still in full 2 Squadron markings with Tornado GR.4 (ZD715) devoid of any squadron markings or codes. Both aircraft have been flying with 617 Squadron based at Lossiemouth.
Left to right: Third pair nearly two hours later. Tornado GR.4 (ZD746 'TH') in it's former SAOEU/FJ&WOEU markings but with a recently applied 'TH' code with Tornado GR.4 (ZG771 'T') in 9 Squadron markings apart from a new 'T' code. Both aircraft are currently flying with 15(R) Squadron based at Lossiemouth.
Left to right: The first pair came returned 2.5 hours later, again with wings swept back, they were Tornado GR.4A (ZG705 '118') of 13 Squadron and Tornado GR.4 (ZD741/-) of 14 Squadron.
Left to right: Single Tornado GR.4 (ZD709 'FA') in it's old 31 'Goldstars' Squadron markings but flying with 12 Squadron the 'FA' tail code indicating its move from Marham to Lossiemouth.
Tornado GR.4 (ZD847 'AA') still in full 9 Squadron markings, only time will tell how long before such squadron markings will remain.
The evening light was superb (DSLR x1.6 sensor + Canon EF 300mm f2.8L at 1/640 f5.6).

Left to right: Tornado GR.4 (ZD811 'R') devoid of any squadron markings, but it did carry a spurious 'R' on the tail and Tornado GR.4 (ZA456 '023') in what may well be 'fleet' code only scheme of the future. It was flying with 12 Squadron based at Lossiemouth. '023' has been fitted with a TIALD (Thermal Imaging Airborne Laser Designator) pod under the fuselage and a Marconi Sky Shadow ECM pod on the port outer wing pylon.
Left to right: Tornado GR.4 (ZA551 'AX') at 18:10 again in full 9 Squadron markings but flying with 12 Squadron, followed by an unmarked Tornado GR.4 (ZD745) at 18:14. 

Friday July 14, 2006. Back in Wales on the day before the RIAT air show at Fairford I was hoping to catch some RAF aircraft bound for the Fairford. With around 33 Hawks, a Dominie, Tornado and a Jaguar, it was very busy day. However the count does not fully describe the day. A good proportion of the Hawks were high or missed the left turn for my valley to pull up to go around again. The Tornado F.3 pulled out of low-level just seconds before coming past my position. So was anything bound for Fairford? Well no, but a BAE Systems Hawk 100 came past twice as part of an air-to-air photo shoot with another Hawk on its way to Farnborough, which was to run the following week.
Left to right: BAE Systems Hawk 100 demonstrator (ZJ951) in its new paint scheme applied specially for the SBAC show at Farnborough. A Hawk cameraship was flying alongside at the time.
Left to right: Just a few images of the many Hawks (XX187, XX169 and XX345) all from RAF Valley. 
Left to right: Dominie T.1 (XS728 'E') of 55(R) Squadron which is part of 3 FTS based at Cranwell. They come by so slowly making it much easier to lock on and get some good shots.
Star performer of the day was this two-seat Jaguar T.4 (XX841) which was operating with QinetiQ at Boscombe Down.

Tuesday June 6, 2006. Back to one of my original favourite places in Wales today, with a swap over at 13:30. The weather great and the promise of some good movements. I was not to be disappointed, the day produced; 23 Hawks, a Jetstream, two Apaches and from Boscombe Down a Jaguar and Alpha Jet. Despite all these movements there was a 3.5 hour gap in traffic from 11:30.
Above: Some less than perfect shots of Royal Navy Jetstream T.2 (XX476 '561') of 750 Squadron from RNAS Culdrose.
Left to right: Hawk T.1A (XX261) no squadron markings, Jaguar T.2B (XX833) of DPA/AFD/QinetiQ at Boscombe Down and Hawk T.1A (XX220) in 208(R) Squadron colours.
Left to right: Hawk T.1A (XX220) in 208(R) Squadron markings. (Canon 300mm f2.8L and shutter speeds 1/500 to 1/640)
Satan's Helo's at low-level on 6/6/06 '666'
Three AgustaWestland WAH-64 Apache AH.1s of the Army Air Corp (AAC) were forward deployed and using their own support this week at Caernarfon airfield. 
They were carrying out daytime and night time mountain flying training sorties at low-level in the Welsh Military Training Area (MTA). 

Above: Apache AH.1 (ZJ190) of AAC 662 Squadron 3 Regiment based at Wattisham.  (300mm 1/125 at f11).
Left to right: AgustaWestland WAH-64 Apache AH.1 (ZJ182 first image only and ZJ190) of AAC 662 Squadron 3 Regiment.
Left to right: Alpha Jet (ZJ648) of DPA/AFD/QinetiQ at Boscombe Down.

Thursday May 11, 2006. The Lake District today was bathed in sun but with a haze that gradually cleared throughout the day. Three Hawks accounted for the mornings traffic. The afternoon started nicely at 12:05 with a 2 Squadron Tornado GR.4 coded 'C' which flew down the south to north valley only to return a few minutes later climbing out of low-level flying north to south. It was seen later at low-level in Wales just 20 minutes later. All images today taken with the 300mm and a x1.4 extender.
Left to right: Tornado GR.4A (ZA371 'C') in 2 Squadron colours.
Left to right: Hawk T.1A (XX303 '303') of 19(R) Squadron, Tucano's (ZF242, ZF489 and ZF171 in 207(R) Squadron colours.
The day finished at 15:30 with the unusual sight of a Bulldog (XX695) which orbited in front of me before continuing north, only to return a few minutes later, to fly down the valley in the opposite direction!
Left to right: Tornado GR.4 (ZG792) devoid of any squadron markings. On January 27, 2011 ZG792 crashed into Loch Ewe in Scotland, the crew ejected safely. Bulldog T.1 (XX695/G-CBBT).

Friday April 6, 2006. With the weather forecast predicting brighter weather I decided to stay over, and move to another valley. Glad I did, as the log shows 12 Hawks, a Jaguar pair, a Tornado and a Harrier through multiple times.
Left to right: Hawk T.1Ws (XX312 and XX181 of 208(R) Squadron and Jaguar GR.3 pair XZ392 'EM' and XX752 'EK' using callsigns 'Turbo 1-2'). 6 Squadron has just moved their Jaguars from Coltishall to Coningsby, when the base closed just five days ago, and when 41 Squadron disbanded.
Left to right: Tornado GR.4 (ZA552 'XI') of 13 Squadron, callsign 'Marham 09', Hawk T.1 flying 'higher' and on an unusual line. Star movement of the day was Harrier GR.7A (ZD376 '24A') from the recently reformed 800 NAS.
800 Naval Air Squadron (800 NAS) reformed on March 31 and are operating 13 Harrier GR.7A/GR.9s from RAF Cottesmore and is part of 'Joint Force Harrier'. The Harrier GR.7A (ZD376 '24A') is captured here when flying at low-level in Wales flown by Lt. Adam Hogg, in their first week of operation and is in the new 800 NAS markings. This particular aircraft has recently returned from Kandahar, Afghanistan and is still showing its mission markings from when rockets/bombs were fired/dropped.
This sequence of frames made four different magazines, one book and a MOD publication!
All images were taken with the DSLR x1.6 sensor + Canon EF 300mm f2.8 L lens, in lacking the ability to zoom, it can force you to take close-ups like the one above.

Thursday April 5, 2006. Wales appears to be producing some regular front-liner activity just lately, so I went to give this location a go. The weather was bright at times but there was a thick cloud base of around 2000 feet, which produced frequent showers. It was also cold and very windy. So was my optimism well founded, no not today, just five Hawks, which was due to RAF Valley night flying this week.
Left to right: Hawk T.1s (XX261 unmarked and XX250 of 19(R) Squadron just below the low cloud).

Thursday February 9, 2006. Up in the Lakes in stunning weather but near freezing temperatures. The count for the day was quite reasonable in the end, despite a four hour break during the middle of the day; a pair Hawks, four Tucano's, a pair of Tornado GR.4s and a sole Jaguar.
Left to right: Hawk T.1A (XX247 'CM') of 100 Squadron with Tucano's (ZF204 of 207(R), ZF378 and ZF205 of 72(R) Squadron) in different squadron markings.
Left to right: Tornado GR.4 (ZA550 'DD') in 31 Squadron markings with GR.4A (ZA373 'H') in 2 Squadron markings.
Left to right: Tornado GR.4A (ZA373 'H') in 2 Squadron markings and Jaguar T.4 (XX840 'EY') of 6 Squadron still lingering at Coltishall.