Normal day at Heathrow with planes stacked up in the sky circling waiting to land.
I live not far, as the crow (or the Eurofighter!) flies, from an airbase and heavy transport planes from there appear to have to lose and gain height relatively slowly. So if they are fully loaded, after take-off they circle round in a spiral until they reach their cruising height before flying off to wherever they are going. Likewise, they arrive in the airspace in the vicinity of the base and then slowly spiral down to lose height.
The RAF Hercules are bad enough but when the USAF Galaxies where coming in each evening and taking off each morning they seemed to take forever to do this! You couldn't miss them, or the removal trucks that trundled up and down the country lanes from the supposedly RAF listening station up in the Glens that was being closed down by the Americans. Each evening, trucks the size of furniture removal vans would trundle down fully loaded and be driven straight into the rear of the Galaxies, to be flown to USAF bases in Germany, be driven off, unloaded and flown back empty in the morning to then be driven back up the Glen to the base, loaded up with equipment during the day all over again and then back they'd come. It seemed to go on for ages and boy where they noisy as they circled each morning and evening - they had my cats demented! Especially the one who even regards the migrating geese as violating her air space when they fly over each winter!
You get a lot of military aircraft that circle during training exercises at high altitude, you might be seeing these. Low level aircraft are normally waiting for landing slots and are kept in a holding pattern. Fog is a problem at the moment at some airports meaning aircraft are put in holds to increase seperation.
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