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Low-Level Flying Photography

Photographic Logs for 2008
(For all these shots, I used my Canon EOS 20D or EOS 40D with a x1.6 sensor.
The lenses attached were a Canon EF 300mm f2.8 L with and without a x1.4 extender or x2 extender and a Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8 L)
 
Dominie T.1 (XS731 'J') of 55(R) Squadron on a low level pilot training exercise through Wales on October 16, 2008.
(DSLR x1.6 sensor + Canon EF 300mm f2.8L at 1/500 at f.9 with -1/3 exposure compensation and ISO 200)

Thursday December 11, 2008 Wales was cold and cloudy all day, and with news that RAF Valley was not flying due to the Christmas party it was down to the frontline squadrons to provide some action. After a two hour wait came a civilian Falcon 20EW operated by FR Aviation which is utilised by the NATO Air Forces in the air warfare training role. A Typhoon and two Tornados completed the days passes and finished off the low level photography for the year.
Left to right: Falcon 20EW (G-RAFR) of FR Aviation
. (DSLR x1.6 sensor + Canon EF 300mm f2.8L f.4 -2/3 exposure compensation, 1/640 and ISO 320).
Left to right: Typhoon F.2 (ZJ927 'QO-M') of 3(F) Squadron. (DSLR x1.6 sensor + Canon EF 300mm f2.8L f3.5 -2/3 exposure compensation, 1/640 and ISO 320).
Left to right: Tornado GR.4 (ZD788 '098') in 14(B) Squadron markings. (DSLR x1.6 sensor + Canon EF 300mm f2.8L f.4 -2/3 exposure compensation, 1/640 and ISO 320).
Left to right: Tornado GR.4 (ZA564 '053') of 31 Squadron in special 'Goldstar' colour scheme. 31 Squadron had been deployed as part of Operation Telic and the Goldstar special had noot been seen for many months, it had also been undergoing deep maintenance. As it had been out the day before I was hoping I would carch it at low level today.
Left to right: Taking in a little bit more of the scenery.

Wednesday December 3, 2008 Wales was a few degrees below zero with a very welcome inch (2.5 cm) of snow where I was standing and on the surrounding peaks. With a clear blue sky the conditions were ideal particularly as there was a chance of some snow shots. Unfortunately the morning did not produce any aircraft, RAF Valley was 'black' due to ice on the runway, by 12:30 Valley was operational and a serge of Hawks were picked up on the scanner. Over the next 2 1/2 hours there were three Hawks, a C-130J, a Typhoon T.1 and a F-15E Strike Eagle. Towards the end of the day ice was forming on my lenses. The Strike Eagle came around at 15:07 minutes before the sun was lost as it descended below the hillside behind me.
Left to right: C-130J-30 Hercules C.4 (ZH883) and Hawk T.1 (XX178) of 19(R) Squadron.

Left to right: A two-seat (back seat was un-occupied) Typhoon T.1 (ZJ800 'BC') which was the first RAF Typhoon to fly (first flew February 14, 2003) and is now with 29(R) Squadron. It was using callsign 'Typhoon 315' and requested a practice diversion (PD) when at 14,000 feet to RAF Valley before continuing at low level through mid-Wales.
Left to right: F-15E Strike Eagle (91-0309 'LN') of 492nd FS made one high pass before returning a few minutes later at a better height for the camera. Using callsign 'Strike 11' it had requested low level in a series of Low Level Flying Areas (LFAs) including ours (LFA 7) after passing through the Lichfield Corridor en route to mid-Wales. DSLR x1.6 sensor + Canon EF 300mm f2.8L at 1/640 at f.5 with -2/3 exposure compensation and ISO 200).

Tuesday November 25, 2008 Wales was very cold today and 4 FTS from RAF Valley were out in force with 21 Hawk passes. It was also very clear and ideal for a few 'scenic' shots.
Left to right: Hawk T.1s (XX307, XX245) and Hawk T.1Ws (XX176 and XX167).
Left to right: Hawk T.1A (XX263 x3) and Hawk T.1W (XX195) of 208(R) Squadron.
Left to right: Hawks (T.1 XX245 x2, T.1W XX167 and T.1A XX335) all of 208(R) Squadron.
Left to right: Hawk T.1A (XX230 x3 and XX176) of 19(R) Squadron. Hawk T.1W (XX176) was fitted with a 30mm Aden Mk.4 Cannon pack and two CBLS (Carrier, Bomb, Light Stores) pods on the wing pylons.

Tornado GR.4 (ZD810 '102') it has 'Spirit of Speyside' nose art and was in XV Squadron markings.
Friday October 24, 2008 It was cold, windy and sunny today and with the clocks going back an hour at the weekend it was my last chance to get a full day's low level photography. The light was stunning in the morning and the passes today by two Lossiemouth based Tornado GR.4s callsign 'snake flight' on the way back from Marham and with numerous passes by Lakenheath based F-15E Strike Eagles the day was awesome. In total there were 27 passes including 15 Hawks, a Tucano, two Tornado GR.4s and the F-15Es. A C-130K Hercules followed the line of the valley but was not low enough the get a proper low level shot of it.
Left to right: Tornado GR.4 (ZD810 '102') it has 'Spirit of Speyside' nose art and was in XV Squadron markings.
Left to right: Tornado GR.4 (ZA473/-) in 12(B) Squadron colours.
Left to right: F-15E Strike Eagle (96-0205 'LN') of the 492 FS, 48 FW from Lakenheath.
Left to right: F-15E Strike Eagle (96-0205 'LN') of the 492 FS, 48 FW, Hawk T.1A (XX327) is inscribed 'RAF Centre of Aviation Medicine' along the top of the fuselage and Tucano T.1 (ZF510) of QintiQ at Boscombe Down.
 F-15E Strike Eagle (91-0324 'LN') of the 494 FS, 48 FW on October 24, 2008.
(DSLR x1.6 sensor + Canon EF 300mm f2.8L at 1/640 at f.5 with -1/3 exposure compensation and ISO 200).
Left to right: F-15E Strike Eagles (91-0324 'LN' followed by 01-2005 'LN 48 FW') of the 494 FS and the 48 Wing Commander's aircraft.
Left to right: F-15E Strike Eagle (91-0324 'LN') on its second pass.
Left to right: F-15E Strike Eagle (01-2004 'LN' '48 FW') the 48 FW Wing Commander's aircraft.
Left to right: Hawks (T.1W XX181, T.1 XX156, T.1A XX263 and T.1 XX156) all of 208(R) Squadron.

Thursday October 16, 2008 I was out today with hopes that the Lossiemouth Tornados and Swedish Air Force Gripens on exercise at Fairford might be operating at low level through mid Wales. A two-seat Gripen did come quite close but as they were only cleared down to 500 feet there was no chance of a low level photograph. Even though there was plenty of activity on the scanner it seemed that the NOTAM covering our valley was putting off pilots. We had two Hawks in the morning and then seven movements in the first hour after the NOTAM had ended. The best movement was a Dominie T.1 using callsign 'Cranwell 96' which was pilot training (2 pob) through Wales at 250 feet. After passing through the Lichfield corridor and heading west it went on to the Brecon area before returning through the Lichfield corridor and requesting a practice diversion (PD) and Radar approach to Waddington with an over-shoot, before returning to Cranwell. The final tally for the day was 12 Hawks and a Dominie.
Left to right: Dominie T.1 (XS731 'J') of 55(R) Squadron.
Left to right: Dominie T.1 (XS731 'J') and Hawk T.1 (XX165) of 208(R) Squadron.
Left to right: Hawk T.1s (XX175 and T.1W XX231) of 208(R) Squadron.

Tuesday September 23, 2008 The forecast for Wales at first glance was bright so off we went with my son Richard (now 24) for his first and probably last experience of low level photography. The weather in reality was; cloudy with sunny spells, a strong wind, some rain and it was a little cold. The first movement at 10:17 of my first Typhoon FGR.4 at low level seemed to bode well for the rest of the day. However this was false optimism and ten Hawks later, the last at 16:14, it was time to go back down the hill at 18:00. An expected Tucano pulled out of low level due to poor visibility a few miles short of us.
Left to right: Typhoon FGR.4 (ZJ921 'QO-H') using callsign 'Nightmare 22' of 3(F) Squadron this was the latest FGR.4 to be returned after its upgrade at Warton. It was carrying a Litening III Laser Designator Pod.
Left to right: Hawk T.1As (XX217 and XX335) and Hawk T.1 (XX171) all from RAF Valley.
Left to right: Hawk T.1A (XX205) of 208(R) Squadron. These images of the same aircraft were taken during several passes throughout the day, each one has a different background colour.

Wednesday July 23, 2008 The forecast for mid Wales was low cloud or hill mist clearing by mid morning, which turned out to be quite accurate. However sea mist engulfed RAF Valley to the north causing the airfield to be closed. The net result for the day was just six Valley Hawks between 11:21 and 13:34 for the day. 
Left to right: Hawk T.1 (XX307), Hawk T.1W (XX181) x2 and Hawk T.1A (XX205) all of 208(R) Squadron.
Left to right: Hawk T.1 (XX175) of 208(R) Squadron which made two passes.

Tuesday June 24, 2008 It was overcast but still bright so the south facing 'Spur' seemed a good choice to shoot from today. With only Hawks (9 in total) the day did not live up to expectations as I was really hoping for some front-liners with vortices, due to the prevailing damp conditions.
Left to right: Hawk T.1W (XX313) in 19(R) Squadron colours was making sure that the valleys were clear, it came through at 08:26. Hawk T.1s (XX156 and XX171) of 208(R) Squadron. Hawk T.1A (XX265 'CK') in 100 Squadron/JFACTSU markings.

Thursday May 8, 2008 Out again the following day for more French Air Force Alpha Jet action and was not disappointed despite have just two passes by a pair. Their afternoon sortie took them way from Wales and up into Scotland. Two passes by the Typhoon virtually accounted for the days action.
Left to right: Alpha Jet (E38 314-LH and E7 314-TU) of Ecole de L'Aviation de Chasse 00.314 based at Tours.
Left to right: Typhoon T.1 (ZJ814 'QO-Z') of 3(F) Squadron.
Left to right: Typhoon T.1 (ZJ814 'QO-Z') and Bolkow Bo-105 (G-NAAA) operated by the Wales Air Ambulance Service having just recovered a person and taking him to a hospital.

Wednesday May 7, 2008 Well what a day the weather was good and to my surprise four French Air Force Alpha Jets flew low past my camera. The Tours based jets were operating from RAF Valley and were flying with Hawks from 208(R) Squadron as part of Exercise 'Garlic Lemon' where by agreement the French and British Air Forces can conduct joint low level training exercises in each country. Today they each flew a morning and afternoon sortie. Some aircraft were accompanied by a Hawk and some were unaccompanied. Some appeared to have a RAF crew member on board. Without the French it would still have been an excellent day with over 30 passes in total.
Left to right: Typhoon F.2 (ZJ922 'QO-C') of 3(F) Squadron using callsign 'Typhoon 12'.
Left to right: Alpha Jet Es (E118 '314-LN' x2, E7 '314-TU' and E10 '314-U'L).
Left to right: Alpha Jet Es (E118 '314-LN', E7 '314-TU', E10 '314-UL' and E38 '314-LH'). (DSLR x1.6 sensor + Canon EF 300mm f2.8L plus a x1.4 extender at 1/800 at f.9 with -2/3 exposure compensation and ISO 200).
Left to right: Hawk T.1 (XX195) of 208(R) Squadron.
Left to right: Hawk T.1As XX201, XX188 and XX287 of 19(R) Squadron.
Left to right: Hawk 132 (ZK121) is with BAE Systems at Warton being tested prior to delivery to the Indian Air Force.
Left to right: Hawk T.1s (XX174 and XX171) of 208(R) Squadron. Typhoon F.2 (ZJ914 DE) of 11(F) Squadron using callsign 'Typhoon 27'.
Left to right: Alpha Jet (ZJ646) of QinetiQ's Aircraft Test and Evaluation Centre (ATEC), Fast Jet Test Squadron (FJTS) and Hawk T.1A (XX329 'CJ') of 100 Squadron with callsign 'Pirate 12' it was working with 'Typhoon 49' which RTB'd to Coningsby without going low level.

Tuesday March 19, 2008 The weather forecast of sun and reports last week of low level sorties by two Saudi Tornados lured me up into Cumbria. Unfortunately neither the sun or the Saudis showed up, the latter preferring to fly around Wales. My bad luck did not end there, after my climb up the hill I was immediately joined by a civilian helicopter employed to carrying large bags filled with stones up the hillsides to repair path erosion. With no prospect of low-flying in this valley I went back down the hill and 50 minutes later I arrived at my second choice of hillside. I eventually caught seven Tucano's, two Hawks and near the end of the day my first Harrier T.12. 
Left to right: Aerospatiale AS350B2 (G-PLMH) just about to start carrying bags of stones. Tucano T.1s (ZF349, ZF407 and ZF491).
Left to right: Hawk T.1As (XX289 'CO' and XX265 'CK') with 100 Squadron / Joint Forward Air Control Training and Support Unit (JFACTSU). Tucano T.1s (ZF171 and ZF291), the first in 207(R) Squadron's markings.
Left to right: Harrier T.12 (ZH665 '113') with 20(R) Squadron.

Wednesday February 6, 2008 The weather had been poor all week but the forecast for today was good. After a little indecision I finally decided on the 'Bwlch' (top shelf) and what an inspired decision that was. Two flights of F-15E Strike Eagles descended down to low level using callsigns 'Sonic' and 'Strong' at mid-morning and again three hours later. The Strike Eagles were seen swooping through a number of valleys in the area with two of them making a total of five passes in front of my camera. A rare low level sortie by the ETPS Andover was another highlight to an extraordinary day which also included seven Hawks.
Left to right: F-15E Strike Eagle (91-0332 'LN') of the 492nd Fighter Squadron, 48th Fighter Wing from RAF Lakenheath at 10:03 assumed to be using callsign 'Sonic 71 or 72' and RTB to Lakenheath.
Left to right: F-15E Strike Eagle (91-0332 'LN') callsign 'Sonic 71 or 72' down through valley again at 12:40 following a 'hot pit' refuel.
Left to right: F-15E Strike Eagle (91-0332 'LN') and one more time four minutes later.
Left to right: F-15E Strike Eagle (00-3002 'LN') of the 494th Fighter Squadron, 48th Fighter Wing, out for the second time today and assumed to be using callsign 'Strong 12' and this time at low level through my valley.
Left to right: F-15E Strike Eagle (00-3002 'LN') and around again 22 minutes later.
Left to right: Hawk T.1s (XX231 and XX339 of 208(R) Squadron and Hawk T.1 (XX218) of 19(R) Squadron. Andover C.1 (XS606) of Empire Test Pilots School (ETPS) from Boscombe Down.