Watch out for low-flying aircraft...on the beach

British sea power is still formidable, but here are some pictures of British air power, with RAF planes using a beach as a runway....

Watch out for low-flying aircraft...on the beach

23rd March 2007

It is one of the prized beaches on the UK coast - a favourite with sunbathers and surfers all year round.

But now it is being used as a training zone as the RAF - the oldest airforce in the world - hone their skills for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A giant lands: The miles of golden sand at Saunton Sands in North Devon are popular with thousands of visiting holidaymakers and local people alike.

But most of them would be stunned if they witnessed this giant of the air coming in over the top of them.

For what many people don't know is that the beach at Saunton is also a military runway - for giant Hercules aircraft.

As these dramatic photographs show, the huge RAF planes take off and land from the stretch of sand.

It is an eye catching scene for guests looking out of their rooms at the white painted Saunton Sands Hotel in the background.

These pictures were taken by former RAF officer Mark Fowler who was given special permission to grab the bizarre images.

Mark, who used to pilot Hercules, said: "I took these pictures two weeks ago.

"I am an ex Hercules pilot myself and this is part of the training course.

"They are unusual shots.

"Saunton is one of the longest beaches in North Devon and part of the beach is a designated military training area.

"And some of the beach is cordoned off even though the Hercules doesn't need a great deal of runway to land and take off from.

"Ground staff do engineering tests to check the rigidity of the sand."

Mark, a former 30 Squadron Hercules Captain at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire, was reunited with his old comrades when he took the pictures.

He said: "The aircraft were from RAF Lyneham and the pictures show the six propeller C130J and four propeller C130K Hercules in action.

"The event if part of the training course and also enables operational crews to practice tactical landing in the UK and occurs a few times a year.

"The Hercules fleet are currently involved in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan."
those things really are monsters.
I'm not sure why anyone would describe a Herc as a monster; they're big enough, but not so big as to need that label. Now, if it were a C5, or an A124, that WOULD be a monster. Or the Guppy that Airbus uses.
you are correct. They're still monsters to me.

I googled the largest planes in teh world and found this diagram:

The AN225 is a slightly bigger, 6 engine version of the AN124 cargo plane (remember the ones Canada hired to fly our army to Afghanistan?). I saw footage of it here locally....big just doesn't cut it.

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