Unusual flight paths over SW England

Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
I'm in Ilfracombe (Devon) at the moment and just noticed an unusual "low and slow" plane flying over. I had a look at FR24 and saw that it was a Lockheed C130 Hercules. (The tracking came and went, so this short section of flight path isn't especially accurate - it actually went almost directly overhead and looped back)

image.jpg

I then noticed two other planes on FR24 close by with no callsign or routing info. Both Dassault Falcon 20s and flying very irregular flight paths:

image.jpg
image.jpg

They were too high to see above the heavy cloud cover. Any ideas what they might be up to?
 

Balance

Senior Member.
Typcially the Falcons will be Cobham FRA's (based at BOH) taking part in exercises.
http://www.cobham.com/about-cobham/...-readiness-training/towed-target-service.aspx
http://www.cobham.com/about-cobham/aviation-services.aspx

Bournemouth is home of the largest fleet of Dassault Falcon 20 (old French business jet), which are mainly used for various types of military missions with the Air Force and the Royal Navy.

G-FRAS Dassault Falcon 20C FA20 082 4009D3 1967 117501 31/07/90 Cobham - blue [ ]
G-FRAT Dassault Falcon 20C FA20 087 4009D4 1967 117502 31/07/90 Cobham - blue [ ]
G-FRAU Dassault Falcon 20C FA20 097 4009D5 1967 117504 31/07/90 Cobham - blue [ ]
G-FRAW Dassault Falcon 20C FA20 114 4009D6 1967 117507 31/07/90 Cobham - blue [ ]
G-FRAH Dassault Falcon 20D FA20 223 4009CA 1969 N900FR 31/05/90 Cobham - blue [ ]
G-FRAK Dassault Falcon 20D FA20 213 4009CD 1969 N905FR 09/10/91 Cobham - blue [ ]
G-FRAO Dassault Falcon 20D FA20 214 4009D0 1969 N906FR 23/10/92 Cobham - blue [ ]
G-FRAP Dassault Falcon 20D FA20 207 4009D1 1969 N908FR 12/07/93 Cobham - blue [ ]
G-FRAR Dassault Falcon 20D FA20 209 4009D2 1969 N909FR 02/12/93 Cobham - blue [ ]
G-FRAD Dassault Falcon 20E FA20 304 400E15 1975 9M-BDK 16/12/05 Cobham - white [ ]
G-FRAF Dassault Falcon 20E FA20 295 4009C9 1974 N911FR 01/09/87 Cobham - blue [ ]
G-FRAI Dassault Falcon 20E FA20 270 4009CB 1972 N901FR 17/10/90 Cobham - blue [ ]
G-FRAJ Dassault Falcon 20E FA20 020 4009CC 1966 N903FR 30/04/91 Cobham - blue [ ]
G-FFRA Dassault Falcon 20DC FA20 132 4009C8 1968 N902FR 28/05/92 Cobham - blue [ ]
G-FRAL Dassault Falcon 20DC FA20 151 4009CE 1968 N904FR 17/03/93 Cobham - blue [ ]



 
Last edited:

Balance

Senior Member.
does the flight track start from the Bournemouth Area?
I don't know, haven't looked but as Trailblazer notes, tracking was intermittent. I don't know if it's just FR24's feeds or the falcons actually turn off their ID when carrying out such exercises as I have previously noticed they tend to "disappear" more regularly than others.
 

David Fraser

Senior Member.
It looks like an exercise as they are going over the north of Darmoor Training area. Did the Hercules? They often fly around 6 to 10000 but come down to 800 to 1000th when doing a drop.
 

BombDr

Senior Member.
The Falcons I imagine belong to Cobham as Balance has said and are sometimes used to simulate UAVs (though I have no personal knowledge that this is the case here) as the CAA are not happy about pilotless aircraft in the sky over the UK, and as Dave has pointed out, with the weather being as it is at the moment they might be lining up for a drop and aborting.

As an Airborne warrior, I have many unhappy memories of standing in a C130 with a parachute low on my back and my Bergan (rucksack) dangling from my waist down at the front, just to ensure all the weight front and back pulls your shoulders down and compresses your spine. Then the RAF fly round and round in circles trying to find breaks in the cloud while tossing us in the back from side to side.... The green light is a relief after an hour of that nonsense.
 

Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
I'm sure he told ME that before. does the flight track start from the Bournemouth Area?
The tracks of the Falcons appeared to start in mid air, one over Wiltshire and one closer to Bournemouth, so they may well have started in that area.

The Hercules kept appearing and disappearing on FR24, only ever showing a short flight path at a time.
 

Efftup

Senior Member.
The tracks of the Falcons appeared to start in mid air, one over Wiltshire and one closer to Bournemouth, so they may well have started in that area.

The Hercules kept appearing and disappearing on FR24, only ever showing a short flight path at a time.
When I tracked those Falcons on a Thursday, they appeared to start in a field near Ringwood. but they only have MLAT so will not appear till approx 5,000 ft off the ground. Bournemouth sounds likely then
 

Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
When I tracked those Falcons on a Thursday, they appeared to start in a field near Ringwood. but they only have MLAT so will not appear till approx 5,000 ft off the ground. Bournemouth sounds likely then
Actually I just checked my phone and I did screenshot the start of one of the tracks, which was over Dorset. Definitely looks like Bournemouth.

image.jpg
 

BombDr

Senior Member.
The Hercules kept appearing and disappearing on FR24, only ever showing a short flight path at a time.
If they are dropping blokes or kit out the back they will probably descend to 600ftAGL and depending on the length of the DZ, may have to make multiple passes to get the whole cargo bay out.

In between passes they usually climb above this as they are also training the crew in lining up for drop runs.

I don't know much about FR24, so unaware about what altitude it starts at, or works off data from the A/C.
 

Efftup

Senior Member.
FR24 works off data from the ADS-B transponder if the plane has one. If it doesn't, (and most military don't) then it picks up data from the MLAT radar but needs 4 receivers to pick it up to be able to pinpoint it. So usually below about 5,000ft or in an area of low coverage (out in the English Channel for example) it is just not in range of enough receivers to show up. So a Hercules constantly dropping low to drop people and then going back up would appear and disappear from FR24, and Falcons from Hurn Airport would seem to magically appear in the middle of a field in Hampshire or Wiltshire as the climbed high enough.
This is also the reason one of those chemtrail sites was claiming Flybe were turning off transponders, cos none of their planes actually have ADS-B transponders.
 
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