Transporting troops, conducting search and rescue missions, and reconnaissance are some of the main reasons why the armed forces undertake low level flying across the United Kingdom.
Despite a major reduction in low flying military aircraft since 1988, the Ministry of Defence still carries out some levels of low flying for training purposes (e.g. from the surface to 2,000 feet above ground level).
The MOD conducts low level flying maneuvers across the majority of the UK (and surrounding areas overseas) when training military aircrew.
Their military low flying system defines lower altitude routes as:
Note: It is not uncommon for the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to authorise rotary-wing aircraft (e.g. helicopters) to fly lower than one hundred (100) feet from the ground (e.g. as part of a sortie).
As a general rule, they do not usually allow the low flying of military aircraft around specific areas, such as:
Some exceptions apply where there are local landing sites situated nearby. For example, some areas combine airspace restrictions and topographical features, which makes it difficult for aircrew to vary their flying routes.
Other sections provide further guidance about:
Most of the activities take place in twenty separate low flying areas, including three 'tactical training areas' (TTA) in:
The Royal Air Force uses air weapons ranges for low flying military aircraft and for air to ground bombing. The ranges are based at:
The MOD air weapons ranges activity timetable provides information about their monthly schedules. They use red flags (or lights), signs, and sentries to show when members of the public cannot go onto an air weapons range.
Note: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) helps to secure the United Kingdom through the British Army, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, and the Strategic Command (UKStratCom).
Low Flying Complaints and Enquiries Unit
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 01780 417558
Monday to Friday: 8:00am to 4:00pm
If you want to make a complaint about low flying aircraft, you would need to send your name, full address (with postcode), telephone number, and the:
The low level advisory service handles enquiries about horse riding activities (e.g. if you have concerns about low level flying aircraft while you are riding a horse in public areas.
Low Level Advisory Service
Telephone: 0800 515544
Learn about call charges
Note: The Defence Flying Complaints Investigation Team may investigate the complaint if it relates to serious injuries or damage. As a rule, you will receive a response within twenty (20) days.
Email: [email protected]
Policy Legacy (FOI Team)
HQ 38 (Irish) Bde and Northern Ireland Garrison
British Forces Post Office 825
You can make an application for the MOD to stop their low flying activities in your area - albeit 'temporarily'. For example, during the Royal Windsor Horse Show (RWHS) or a major agricultural event.
In most cases, providing a postponement will not disturb their low level flying training schedules, they will grant the request. Contact the MOD and include details about the name (and nature) of the event, along with:
The main section glides through the most important categories that relate to the rules of flying and key regulations for flights coming in and going out of Great Britain.
The British Horse Society produces a leaflet that explains the impact of military helicopter low flying with extra safety advice for horse riders.
Note: The short YouTube video shows some clips of low-level flying and pilot training taking place around the mountains of Wales (accredited to Elwyn R).
Guide about Low Level Flying Military Aircraft in United Kingdom