Ghost Fliers

originally published in Supernatural Peak District (Robert Hale: London, 1999) – also see my 2013 blogpost ‘Yorkshire Ghost Plane Mystery Solvedhere.

‘It was so vivid. It was just like being on a runway. You were just like planted on a runway and a plane was coming straight for you and you are in the way, that’s what it was like.’

A Sheffield woman called Doreen Ashall described will never forget the ‘ghost plane’ which turned an ordinary day out into a magical mystery tour. Doreen had been on a day-trip to Derbyshire with her husband Gordon, their daughter and son-in-law. The family were travelling in the Ashall’s four wheeled drive and had reached a crossroads at Grindleford when they saw what Doreen described as ‘a huge old plane’ flying low in the sky, and apparently heading straight towards them. Gordon, who was driving, almost went into a ditch and Doreen said she was tempted to duck her head as the plane swooped silently above the startled foursome before disappearing from sight. The couple were so certain the plane would have collided with one of the nearby rocky fells if it had continued in its flightpath that they stopped at a nearby cafe and alerted the police in Chesterfield. The duty officer checked with local airports and reported back to the puzzled family that ‘there was no record of any aircraft in the vicinity at that time.’

The Ashalls were left with an experience that was both striking and real to them but for which there was no obvious explanation. Doreen said: ‘It was definitely real and I saw everything and no one can tell me did not see it. I’m sure I saw what I saw.’

Equally sure was a Chesterfield man called Tony Ingle, who was so puzzled by what he saw in the sky over the Peak District that he contacted a local newspaper. Tony was enjoying a holiday break at a caravan park at Hope when he decided to take his golden retriever Ben for a walk one sunny April afternoon in 1995. As they strolled along leafy Aston Lane, Tony suddenly put a foot backwards in time…and was astounded to see what appeared to be a wartime aircraft flying between forty and sixty feet in the air above him.

‘It was very eerie…I could see the propellers going round but there was no sound,’ Tony said. ‘It was getting lower and lower and I thought “crikey, this thing’s going to crash…” It was bizarre…I could see it was banking as if trying to turn, and then it seemed to go down just over a hedge. I ran up the lane to see if I could see anything. I expected a plane to be in the field but there was nothing…just lambs and sheep. Everything was silent, you could hear a pin drop…the best way I can describe it was as if someone had died; it was terrible, a very eerie sensation.’

Tony has been back to Aston Lane many times but Ben refuses to go anywhere near the field where the plane appeared to crash. ‘He just cowers and won’t budge and the only time I tried to pull him along he just slipped his collar,’ he said. Before his experience, Tony did not believe in ghosts but now he is not so sure. ‘I have racked my brains for a logical explanation but I can’t find one. I can’t explain it; I saw that plane all right, and it disappeared before my eyes.”

Coincidentally Tony’s sighting came just a short while after plaques commemorating two wartime tragedies, which claimed the lives of a dozen Allied airmen, were unveiled in the hills of the Peak. The air crashes, just two of fifty separate accidents which have claimed the lives of more than two hundred pilots and crew since the Second World War, have added to the sinister reputation of the mountains among fliers. These tragedies of half a century ago have become woven into local folklore and have more recently provided the backdrop to a string of reports describing ‘ghostplanes’ which have baffled both the emergency services who have responded to calls of crashing planes and local historians who have struggled to explain them.

For experiences of Tony Ingle and the Ashall family are certainly not unique. Over the last ten years the high moors between Sheffield and Manchester have become the scene of dozens of sightings of phantom planes. They are generally described as large, prop-driven machines of Second World War vintage, make no noise and vanish before the eyes of startled witnesses, often leaving them with the impression that the plane has ‘crashed.’ A number of witnesses have said that the plane they saw was so low they instinctively felt the urge to ‘duck’ their heads as it passed overhead. No sign of a crash has ever been found when searches have been carried out by the police and mountain rescue teams.

Win Hill and Ladybower reservoir

Aviation historians who have studied the reports have said the description given by Tony Ingle in particular resembles a WW2 vintage C-47 Dakota or a Wellington bomber. Strangely enough, there have been crashes of both types of aircraft in the same area of the Peak District within living memory which have claimed the lives of air crew from several nations. Almost exactly half a century before Tony Ingle’s sighting, on 24 July 1945, a Dakota crashed into the Peakland hills with the loss of all six US aircrew and an RAF passenger travelling on the plane. The C-47 came to grief above Shelf Moor near Glossop on a routine supply trip from Leicester to Scotland. Captain George Johnson ignored advice which suggested he should fly up the East Coast to avoid deteriorating weather. Instead he took a short cut across the Pennine mountains and became lost and disorientated in mist before the plane crashed into the crags of Bleaklow.

Of the existing Dakotas still operating today,  just one is flown by the RAF and 11 are operated by Air Atlantique which runs the largest civilian Dakota operation in the world.  A film crew who made a mini-documentary on the ghostplane mystery ran checks with the company and were able to establish that none of these planes were airborne at the time of Tony’s sighting. The single Dakota operated by the RAF was flying that day, but was more than 150 miles away at the time.

So the mystery has continued and in recent years has been increased by sightings of what appear to be ghostly versions of the wartime Avro Lancaster bomber which was used with devastating effect by the RAF against the cities of Nazi Germany in the Second World War. On several occasions a phantom Lancaster has been spotted skimming across the still waters of the giant Ladybower reservoir in Derbyshire’s Derwent Valley. Stories which have been circulating in the area for almost twenty years describe how the ghost flier appears on moonlit nights and vanishes before the eyes of spectators. A typical sighting reported to writer Wayne Boylan came from a couple called the Shaws who were returning home along the Snake Pass after a visit to relatives in Glossop one still, moonlit night in October 1982. They had pulled into a layby beside Ladybower for a breath of fresh air when Mr Shaw caught sight of something flying across the waters of the reservoir towards them. The object swung around to his right and continued up the reservoir, and he concluded that it must have been a hang-glider. It was at then that the flying object turned again and flew back towards the couple and at that precise moment there was a sudden burst of moonlight which revealed the familiar outline of a  Lancaster bomber of World War Two vintage. Mr Shaw said: ‘It continued flying over the reservoir for about two hundred yards and then, quite suddenly, vanished before our eyes, leaving myself and my wife stunned at what we had witnessed.’

The Ladybower reservoir is just one part of the larger Derwent Dams complex which stretches north from the Ashopton viaduct towards the Derwent and Howden reservoirs, built between 1901 and 1916. Ladybower was added during the 1930s when the beautiful green valleys were flooded to create a huge reservoir and immense dam wall covering  houses, farms and Derwent’s parish church beneath millions of gallons of water. Less than a decade later, the peaceful silence of the new complex was shattered by the drone of Rolls Royce Merlin engines as waves of low flying aircraft dived and skimmed across the dams and reservoirs. These were crewed by the daring pilots who formed one of the most famous of the RAF squadrons during the Second World War. It  was at the Derwent dams and others at Bradfield near Sheffield, where the hand-picked crews of the famous 617 squadron led by Wing Commander Guy Gibson flew training sorties before their attack on Germany’s Mohne and Eder dams in 1943. On occasions the crews used the twin towers of the dam to practice their attack runs, sometimes flying as low as fifty feet above the water. During the training the RAF crews used bags of flour in place of the ‘bouncing bomb’ they were to carry in the forthcoming attack upon the German Ruhr.

While the daredevil nature of the practice runs often placed the Lancaster crews in great danger, none were ever lost or disabled in an accident which might have triggered stories about a ghost plane. Despite this missing link the direct association between the legend of the ‘Dambusters’ Squadron and the Derwent Dams is undeniable and is today a major tourist attraction for the area. On several occasions during the past twenty years, squadron veterans have revisited the dams to watch the last remaining operational Lancasters perform a symbolic fly-over watched by thousands of visitors to the National Park. Derwent Valley’s historian Vic Hallam said it was during this same period that rumours first began to circulate describing ghost fliers in this part of the Derwent Valley. Before that time there were stories about phantom organ music and bells ringing in the steeple of drowned church at Derwent, which can on rare occasions be glimpsed above the water when the reservoirs are low.

Lancaster returns to Derwent Dams (credit: Steve Payne)

Vic runs a small museum dedicated to the Dambusters Squadron which is housed in a tower in the Derwent Dam itself. Many hundreds of visitors have visited the displays of memorabilia and a number of them have volunteered their own sightings of ghostly wartime aircraft around the reservoirs.  ‘It’s a real puzzle, but the ordinary people who see these things are genuine, they are not cranks.’ Vic told me. The one story which impressed him the most was that of a woman who had been sat in a car with her husband enjoying a cup of tea from a flask on the Ladybower viaduct, near the site of the lost village. It was a fine, sunny afternoon and as she glanced sideways through the window she saw a plane fly past the car ‘as quiet as a mouse.’  It was a large, dark coloured bomber of the Lancaster type and the woman said she distinctly saw four engines with propellers whirling round. She watched it fly past and disappear into the trees before turning to her husband but at first she did not dare to say anything in case he had not seen it. Her fear evaporated when she saw the look of shock etched upon his face and before she could utter a word he turned to her and said ‘Did you see that?’

‘She came and asked about it in 1998 wanting to know if the Lancaster which sometimes visits had come over,’ Vic explained. ‘But I had to tell her there was no question about there being a four-engined bomber in the area at that time. They were also clear that the aircraft they saw was an old wartime Lancaster, which is nothing like the Hercules transports we sometimes get over the valley. The pair of them were literally staggered and the lack of sound is unaccountable because if it was a real Lancaster you would have been able to hear the familiar growling sound of the engines for miles.’

Only two serviceable Lancasters are currently in existence which could possibly account for these puzzling sightings. One forms part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, while the other is preserved in the aircraft museum at Duxford. The pilot of the Coningsby Lancaster, Flight Lieutenant Mike Chatterton, says the aircraft are flown only during the summer months when they take part in high profile, and well-advertised display work. During the winter, the ageing craft are confined to their bases for servicing.  Asked about the phantom Dambuster sightings, Flight Lieut Chatterton told a documentary film crew:  ‘I have heard rumours that aircraft resembling old wartime Lancasters have been seen flying over the Peak District hills in the winter, but I can confirm they are not ours.’

While there are no records of Lancasters being lost in tragic circumstances in the Derwent valley one did crash into the hills west of the valley. All six crew of the Royal Canadian Air Force Lancaster bomber from 408 Squadron died when their aircraft collided with James’s Thorn on Bleaklow on 18 May 1945.  The tragedy, which happened just ten days after the end of the war in Europe, occurred during a routine flight when Captain ‘Sonny’ Clifford was caught out by bad weather above the mountains. Like many others he had decided to take a short cut across the Peak, not realising how fickle the weather could be in this region and how rapidly conditions can change without warning.  Flying without his navigator Captain Clifford, a seasoned veteran at twenty one of  countless raids over Nazi Germany, became lost as the light deteriorated and tried to lose altitude in a bid to locate a familiar landmark. He failed to see the rocks and crags of the Dark Peak which were shrouded in low mist and fog until it was too late.

Wreckage of Superfortress, Bleaklow, 2001

Far from being isolated accidents the loss of the Lancaster and the USAF Dakota on the same mountain two months later were just the beginning of a series of tragedies which have continued almost until the present day. In 1948 a US Air Force B-29 Superfortress lost its way in low cloud and exploded at Higher Shelf Stones 1,600 feet up on the summit of Bleaklow while on a flight from RAF Scampton to Warrington in Cheshire. All thirteen crew including Captain Langdon P. Tanner died in the crash. Today, pieces of the wreckage from the Superfortress can still be seen partly buried in the peat groughs, high up near the exposed summit near Bleaklow Head. The crash has become the focus of an annual pilgrimage by local people who come here to pay their respects to the dead, who are commemorated by a simple shrine and a plaque. When the mist and fog descend, the place takes on an eerie atmosphere which has been noted by many visitors to the moor and has helped to discourage souvenir hunters.

Phantom Airmen

It is perhaps the lingering memory of tragedies such as these which have led to the growth of stories and legends about the ghosts of airmen who continue to haunt the scene of the crashes which have claimed so many lives. Aviation historian Ron Collier has spent the last thirty years studying the Peak District aircrashes and although he finds the reports of ghost planes difficult to believe he admits to being disturbed by experiences which he cannot account for in scientific terms. ‘There has to be a logical explanation but in my research I have repeatedly come up against the paranormal,’ he says. ‘There is a force which governs the moors. You can feel it. And the scores of sightings of ghostplanes only back that up. Something is going on, and it is very difficult to explain what.’

Among the stories Ron has collected include that of a farmer who picked up debris from the wreckage of an RAF Blenheim which crashed on Sykes Moor near Glossop in 1939. ‘He picked it up for use as farming equipment and stowed them away in an outhouse,’ said Ron. ‘But then one day he and his son saw the barn almost shake itself to pieces. They immediately took all the stuff back to where they found it and it never happened again.’ Another man who was presented with a propeller from the plane later suffered such a series of disasters and personal tragedies that a year later he became desperate to dispose of the momento. ‘I saw him in a pub and he was shaking from head to foot,’ said Ron. ‘He was cursing and saying “you gave me that propeller” but I managed to calm him down and he told me the full story, and what a story it was. Within months of taking it home and putting it on display his financial world fell apart. Hs wife left him and his kids were scattered. He associated all his bad luck with that propeller, and in the end he took it back to the crash site and buried it.’

Retired Woodhead railwayman John Davies has also seen a ghost flier above the northern fells near his home in Longdendale. He tells another story about pieces of the wrecked Blenheim which he and a friend recovered and stored in an garage near their home in the valley. Soon afterwards they were terrified by a sound like a  large animal – a huge cat, or a lion – sniffing around the hut late at night. Describing the experience to writer Rex Bellamy years later, John said: ‘My father didn’t believe in ghosts. But he said to me: “There’s only one thing I can say – I’d get rid of those bits of Perspex if I were you.” So I took it right up t’moors and buried it.’

Then there was the story told by a local nurse who with a group of friends had dabbled with a ouija board during her night shift. She approached Ron Collier in a terrified state, claiming the the board had spelled out a message reading: ‘Where we are now, we are not at rest,’ and then went on to give all the names of the crewmen who died in the Superfortress crash. ‘I told her to see a priest, which she did,’ he said.

Another personal experience Ron found impossible to dismiss was that of his friend, fellow  historian Gerald Scarratt, who witnessed the aftermath of the B-29 crash as a Glossop schoolboy in 1948. Gerald returned to the wreck with his son a quarter of a century later and while scratching away soil during heavy rain he came across what he thought was a tiny washer. After cleaning the ‘washer’ turned out to be a gold ring engraved with the name of the plane’s captain, Langdon P. Tanner. Shortly after the discovery was publicised, a group of aircraft enthusiasts asked Scarratt to show them the place where he found the ring, and he agreed to take them up to the crash site on Bleaklow. ‘I bent down to show them where I had found the ring and when I looked up they had scarpered and were ten or fifteen yards away,’ he said. ‘When I caught up with them they were ashen-faced. They said they had seen someone standing behind me, looking down and dressed in full flying uniform. I told them I had seen nothing, but they said:  “We’ve all seen him, thanks for taking us up, but we are going.” And I have never seen or heard from them again.’ Gerald added that ever since that time there have been reports not just of the ghosts of airmen, but of phantom aircraft flying over the area.

Vic Hallam recalls a weird story of a ghostly airman who emerged from the waters of the Derwent Reservoir one damp, misty morning before the eyes of a terrified walker. ‘This man was on the walkway looking towards the Derwent Dam looking up the valley,’ said Vic.  ‘He was out hiking and was up there early one morning; it was quite damp and there was a mist over the dam. Then he noticed a light reflected in the water. It was a misty day, and saw a large figure come out of the dam and disappear. It wore and old brown great-coat with a sheepskin collar, flying boots and his back seemed to be on fire which explained the light he had seen reflected in the water. He just walked out of the water and disappeared into Hollingsend Wood. He was emphatic that it was definitely the figure of an airman or bomber pilot of world war vintage and he was able to describe it clearly. But he said it was unreal and not in proportion to the dam, almost as if it was a projection from something. The way he described it was a weird feeling.’ Vic added: ‘I can’t explain it but he was very sincere and very convincing. When there is a mist it looks very eerie on the dam, but I have noted that there is a single conifer on the banking which can be mistaken for the figure of an airman when the conditions are right.’

As the years pass by the ever-growing numbers of sincere people who have witnessed inexplicable happenings in the Derwent valley increases. On the surface, some of these sightings appear to be virtual replays of actual tragic events which have taken place up to fifty years ago in these hills.  Peak Park Ranger Brian Jones, who is based at the Fairholmes Visitors Centre near Ladybower, says the rescue services receive several reports of supposed ‘crashed planes’ from the Derbyshire moors every year, to the extent that this kind of sighting has become almost a regular event. The sincerity and shock displayed by callers sometimes leads even the emergency services into believing real aircraft must have come down.

The most spectacular recent example happened on the night of Monday 24 March 1997 when police in both Derbyshire and South Yorkshire received a series of 999 calls reporting a low flying plane on a collision course with the Peak District hills north of the Howden Reservoir. Once again reliable witnesses, including a police special constable and several farmers reported seeing the plane and two gamekeepers were startled by a huge explosion as if something had crashed into the moors near Strines Forest. The special constable, Marie-France Tattersfield, insisted the object she saw while driving near Bolsterstone was a real plane and not a ghost. But she had to admit the plane was ‘the weirdest thing I have ever seen … it was big and it was well below the legal altitude for night flying. All its windows were lit up which made it look even more odd as no pilot would fly blind at that time of night over these hills.’  Her story was supported by a gamekeeper who said he saw the aircraft pass over as he worked on Midhope Moor. He said it was ‘definitely a plane, and it was a big one, like an old wartime Lancaster.’ It flew off towards the moors at Woodhead and he could hear a ‘loud humming noise’ as it disappeared from view.

The police were left with no choice but to take these reports seriously and called out a full mountain rescue team including more than one hundred volunteers, tracker dogs and two helicopters to search more than forty square miles of barren moor. They eventually called off the search after fifteen hours when no trace of any kind of crash could be found.  Afterwards, a police spokesman admitted they could not rule out a ‘paranormal’ explanation in the light of the legend of the ghost flier. The case remains an unsolved mystery to this day, and some have even speculated that the mystery was really sparked by a UFO which crashed or had shot down a pursuing military jet over the Peak District. As an example of modern beliefs and obsessions replacing older traditions, this was a classic case of folklore in the making.

As for the Peak Park ranger, Brian Jones says he remains baffled by the continuing reports of ghost fliers and ‘phantom’ crashes but tries to take a down-to-earth view on the whole subject. Brian said that on many occasions people have reported seeing aircraft in distress and as a result the rescue team have gone on full alert before they have realised there was only a possibility that a crash had actually occurred. Often it has quickly become apparent that only a very low flying aircraft has been seen and this has been a view confirmed when checks with police and air traffic control have revealed that no planes were reported missing.

As to what it is that so many people have reported seeing, Brian remains open-minded. ‘It’s a phenomena,’ is the simple conclusion. ‘These are very genuine people and usually they are in trauma. They have seen these things, they can’t understand it, and why should I disagree with them? I honestly believe that they believe they have seen these things, and the last thing we want to do is refuse to turn out and an incident has actually occurred.’

Copyright David Clarke 2011

41 Responses to Ghost Fliers

  1. alvaro patlan estrada says:

    According to the the late Carlos Castaneda(“The teachings of don Juan. A yaqui way of Knowledge”), don Juan would say ” the world is a very misterious place”.

  2. Andy says:

    I’ve spent a lot of time on the moors and visiting crash sites and although I’ve never seen anything specific in terms of ghosts, there are a couple of sites I have only visited once due to what I can only describe as an oppressive and menacing ‘atmosphere’.

  3. I love your site Dr. Clarke, for I myself am a writer of psychological horror fiction with two books having being published. I also do a lot of research related to historical air crashes & actually live on an air crash site here in Mumbai, India.

  4. Anne Copley says:

    Last night a low flying plane of similar style flew over kinder ??

  5. Ian Buckley says:

    Hello,
    Is there any way we could check if there was a very low flying aircraft in the valley between the Ladybower area and the Hathersage area on Wednesday 16th May 2012 around 16.00. As we headed back to Longshaw one of our group of three, walking in the Carl Wark/Higger Tor area shouted for us to look back down the valley. We did just in time to see the fusilarge and tail of a dark coloured aircraft before it disappeared behind a hill. We thought it curious to be so low and also we noted that although relativly close we had heard no sound. Although we, nearing Longshaw, were quite elevated compared to Hathersage, the aircraft must have been very low to disappear behind the hill that slopes down to that village. On a sunny afternoon on the moors the paranormal didn’t cross our minds but these thoughts have crossed my mind several times since.

    • Thanks Ian. I don’t know but I will check this out and post any results.

    • Chris & Irene Pryce says:

      On the 17th June 2013 at about 2pm just above Whim Cottage above the Millstone Inn, on the Sheffield Road Hathersage, Derbyshire, my husband and I traveling by car were astounded to see a large aircraft appear in front of us, rising from the valley. It appeared to be banking to gain height before passing from our vision around the valley. As we immediately reached the junction we looked to see if the plane may have crashed, only to find it was nowhere to be seen. My husband thought it was a WW2 vintage Dakota and was the colour of khaki Green.We heard nothing! On enquiry in the village they had not seen or heard a low flying plane.

  6. Matthew Howard says:

    In 2005 me and 2 friends wer driving to manchester from sheffield we took the snakes pass, it was a bout 11pm and was a clear quiet night when me and my mate saw a white mist in the middle of the road. We both looked at each other “what the f#$@’s that” it was not the shape of a figure or animal, it was just a thick mist. As we drove through it it appeared to be inside the car then went out the back, my mate who was in the back seat shit himself. Im not sayin it was a ghost but still….what was it???

  7. J says:

    Myself and husband witnessed a ghost plane on the A46 in Coventry en route to the local hospital. With the Airport directly behind us just under half a mile away this plane was completely silent, static and extremely low. We could see the whole side of the plane which was white with red stripes, 4/5 windows (estimate as it was not a two seater) and had propellors. Not directly above the road but to the left above above a building. We were completely gob smacked and as we passed it I turned to watch until I could no longer see it. A Dr Hall reported seeing a stationary plane not too far from where we saw ours.

    Dr Hall
    Yesterday (Sunday, 22 April 2007) and last Sunday, just after driving onto the M69 from the Coventry East bypass, we saw what appeared to be a twin-prop passenger aeroplane coming in to land but it was stationary! Does anyone know anything about it?

  8. Mrs Anita Skinner says:

    I read with interest your sightings of “Ghost planes” I’m a photographer who spends much of my time photographing the Yorkshire Dales so I know this area very well. My husband and I have both witnessed the sight of these large matte grey unmarked planes flying dangerously low between the hills and peaks of the Dales. One of our encounters was in August 2010 when travelling in our car towards Buckden. We both looked up to see a matte grey unmarked plane flying very low above us. I had my camera ready and managed to capture two shots of the plane. Neither of us heard any sound coming from the engines, this struck us as being very strange, as a plane of that size and having 4 propellers should make a great deal of noise. It was heading over from Wensleydale to Wharfedale towards Buckden Pike, this area has a history of a plane crash. We were very concerned about the height that it was flying at. Just recently in February 2013 we witnessed this plane again again flying dangerously close to the ground unfortunately I didn’t have my camera ready. We thought that they must be military aircraft on manoeuvres but how could an plane that big make no noise? I did crop and clarify the photo’s as they were a little blurred, these are genuine pictures. I have sent them to you by email. By the way, we also witnessed a similar plane heading from Malhamdale towards Lancashire several years before, again we thought that it’s flight path was extremely low and thought that it might crash into the hillside. I hope these photo’s help you and your readers find the truth behind these sightings.

  9. Chris & Irene Pryce says:

    On the 17th June 2013 at about 2pm just above Whim Cottage above the Millstone Inn, on the Sheffield Road Hathersage, Derbyshire, my husband and I traveling by car were astounded to see a large aircraft appear in front of us, rising from the valley. It appeared to be banking to gain height before passing from our vision around the valley. As we immediately reached the junction we looked to see if the plane may have crashed, only to find it was nowhere to be seen. My husband thought it was a WW2 vintage Dakota and was the colour of khaki Green.We heard nothing! On enquiry in the village they had not seen or heard a low flying plane.

  10. Jo Travis says:

    Hi,
    I just want to add another sighting of a WW2 plane in this area. It was in 1997 and I was driving from Eyam to Bakewell when I saw a large daark coloured plane flying low in front of a hill. As in other sightings it was completely silent. It suddenly disappeared and I though it must have flown behind the hill through a gap I couldn’t see. I decided that there must be an airshow on in the area and thought no more about it, until I watched the local news the following night which reported other people having sighted the plane. Sorry I can’t be more precise with the details – it was a while ago and I’d never thought to tell anyone about it. The only other thing I can add was that it was a sunny day, but this plane seemed to be flying in shadow – it just didn’t look “right”
    I must explain that I am complete sceptic when it comes to ghouls and ghosts and I refuse to believe that I saw some kind of spirit; I just can’t tell you what I did see.

  11. Louise says:

    I am very interested in this subject as I had a very vivid sighting that I cannot explain and would really like to find out if there were any crashes or activity in the area that could be linked to what I saw. The exact date was September 12 2001 about midday, so the day after 9.11 and I had been watching all the terrible footage of the Twin Towers and was on my way to a meeting, travelling from Torquay to Newton Abbot when I heard a very loud plane. I looked towards the sound in the valley and over the railway line and I saw a grey plane with propellers flying very low, it was very strange and I had never seen anything like it before, my immediate thought was that they were training flights following 911 and the world would never be the same again! Very soon after the plane, or maybe another plane flew past, I soon realised that this was probably the same plane but I never saw it turn and fly back round, it was very strange and every time I drive down this road I look for these planes again but have never seen them.
    The noise of this plane was so load it seemed like it was in my head and when I went to my meeting I could still hear it flying around and commented that it was bothering me to the people I was meeting and only now realise that the looks on their faces meant that they probably had no idea what I was talking about!!
    So I can only conclude that what I saw and heard was very out of the ordinary and potentially other people could not see or hear it! It was so vivid and I have been told that my senses could have been heightened as my Grandfather passed away on 10th Sept then it was 911 and all this happened on 12th Sept 2011, all I know is it was very strange! I have looked into it and have found some reference to German planes strafing the railway line in this area and wonder if this is what I saw??
    Any help, advice, suggestions appreciated..
    Thanks
    Louise

    • Thanks Louise – you don’t mention the location of this sighting. Was in the Hope Valley/Derbyshire peak district?

    • Linda Tucker says:

      Hi I saw a plane very much like you described
      this plane was flying over sandringham park, newton abbot June last year
      it made no sound it was Gray flew over towards the rail way line and headed up the railway line.
      And from our flat window which over looks the railway and Brunel industrial park we saw a light Gray small passenger plane flew over the rail way line went towards denbury then about 20 mins or more came back over the railway line no sound

  12. Louise says:

    Hello – apologies.. my sighting was in South Devon alongside the road between Newton Abbot and Torquay over the railway line…
    Louise

  13. I have now seen the Peak District “ghost plane” for myself! At approximately 12.10 on Friday 5 July 2013 I was swimming in the outside pool at Hathersage in Derbyshire’s Hope Valley – about 5 miles south of the Derwent Dams. It was warm with a clear blue sky, when suddenly without warning I heard a very loud droning sound of turbo-prop engines. As I flipped over onto my back I caught sight of what was clearly a very large, grey aircraft skimming the rooftops over Hathersage. It was so low – 300-500 ft from the the ground – and I thought for a split second ‘it’s going to collide with the chimney pots’. But at that moment it banked to the left and immediately I saw the 4 distinctive turbo-prop engines and realised I was looking at a C-130 Hercules, probably on low-level exercises from RAF Marham in Norfolk. After banking it disappeared from sight and everything was plunged back into silence. People standing by the pool were open-mouthed in amazement, some of them running and pointing at the sky and saying ‘bloody hell, that was close’. If I had been in a car, at dusk or after dark, or in a position out from the wake of the engine noise, I could have imagined that I was seeing a phantom of some description, particularly if I had been aware of the legend of the ghostly Lancaster bomber that is supposed to fly this section of the Derwent Valley. Now I can legitimately say “I Know What I Saw” – and it wasn’t a ghost, it was the Royal Air Force’s finest!

  14. dave power says:

    Hi I just wanted to tell you about an experience me and my work mate ian had some years ago 2008
    we was driving over the tops from Glossop to hayfield on the A624 just after lunch time ,we had just passed monks rd and with the road falling down ,, we saw coming in from the right a low flying grey plane as if it had been flying through the valley odd thing no sound , the plane , ghost, or whatever ,, then banked down with a turn as if it was going to hit the hills ,, with no sound of a crash or anything me and ian , was a little shook up ,, we drove to hayfield and asked 2 women who was chatting if they had seen or heard what we described ,, and one told us we had just seen the ghost plane !
    a ghost plane ??? this is a metal object ,, but what plays on my mind is , what we saw wasn’t just a ghost plane but the moment the crew lost there lives ,,and if they didn’t lose there lives why the ghost plane ??
    the plane shape we seen was a prop plane with a big rounded tail fin .

    • John cauley says:

      2 years ago summer time 2013 can’t remember exact date July 2013, myself and my wife were sitting at the stream in Jacobs ladder near suddenly out of nowhere came a massive
      Large plane out of nowhere flying really low flying from the direction of edale thought it was going to crash , never thought much about it but watching a program about the Pennine way said a b29 had crashed there years ago looked up a photo of b29 and it was exactly like that

  15. Ron Hubbard says:

    I have had several strange experiences with UFOs, but the strangest one was when I was staying at a hotel by an airport some time ago and one night I happened to look out to see a bunch of white lights one by one fly out to a point in mid-air where they would make a U-turn and come back towards the hotel. But as they came back, they were no longer just plain white lights but small prop planes! Small aircraft that looked ordinary enough, but noiseless, and this action repeated itself about a dozen times so I knew they weren’t true planes; no airport would allow a dozen small planes to take off and land in rapid succession like that. I had read about similar phantom planes in one of John A. Keel’s books that were UFOs that flew into clouds but caame out as an air plane, but I had never expected to see any.

  16. John Mason says:

    Just after the end of WW2 in 1947, during the terrible winter of that year, a Staffordshire village was cut off by deep snow & the RAF sent an aircraft with supplies for the villagers . Unfortunately, as the aeroplane flew over the Staffordshire Moorlands, the weather worsened & the aircraft lost height & crashed killing all on board . At the time of the accident , the villagers learned that the main road into Leek was now clear & supplies could be brought by road. A memorial window in Leek Church gives the names of the aircrew & others on board the aircraft who were killed on their mission of mercy.

  17. annette says:

    My father had a dreadful experience today. We was passing the moors and peaks just after chapel en Frith heading towards Bakewell. All was going well then out blue Dad completely freaked out. He was shaking in fear and sweating and white. All his hairs stood on end, we was all panicking wot was up. He said as he drove past the peaks he suddenly cudnt move and went really dizzy and felt really sick but couldn’t speak to telL us. When finally spoke he said he saw a very large old plane, maybe a Lancaster Bomber,.upside down in the Derbyshire moors. We saw nothing but he was adamant and very frightened. We thought was hallucination, maybe his diabetes but he wasn’t getting any hypo or hyper issues when we got him away and calmed him. He was physicality sick when got to Bakewell. Took a lot to calm him and still don’t think he’s in best place. Out of interest I went on Google and was gobsmacked to hear that there had been ghost plane sightings, mainly Lancaster Bombers, etc, in the area.

  18. Jason Green says:

    I found this page while looking because I had a sighting of a ghost plane (though it didn’t occur to us at the time it was a ghost plane) it would have been August 1994 I think, I’d recently started working at a residential home for adults with autism and three of us (staff) had taken two of the residents out walking on moorland over the road from the big car park near foxhouse is the best I can describe for those that know the area.( I could pretty much pin point the area and direction it was traveling on a map should anybody want to know the exact spot.)
    We were walking at the edge of some woodland and I happened to look to my left and saw at about our eye level, a few hundred yards away this old bomber slowly gliding just above the tops of the trees, I pointed it out to those I was with and we watched awe struck for a good few seconds before it disappeared behind the trees. During this few seconds I noticed one of the autistic lads I was with put his fingers in his ears and had a very distressed expression. This is something quite common in autism but it is the only time I ever saw him do it in the eight or so years I was to know him. The strange thing was I couldn’t hear anything and wondered what he was reacting to, especially as a few minutes after this, a military type jet plane came rushing overhead making a horrendous noise and he didn’t react at all.
    Another thing that occurred to me while watching it was how fresh and white the numbers painted on the side looked, I felt they’d spoiled the authenticity of it somehow, I do wish I’d made note of the numbers, it would’ve been amazing to match them up with a plane that had crashed in the area. Anyway at the time as I said I didn’t cross my mind it was anything but a plane gliding over the trees, I thought there might be some kind of display or celebration going on in the area.

    It only occurred to me we might have witnessed a ghost bomber when a few years later one of the staff I was with at the time brought a book into work about local ghost stories and we were talking about the bomber sightings when it came to me and I reminded him of that day and the realization flooded over us like two excited school kids.
    Its something I feel very lucky to have seen.

    Reading one of the stories above reminded me of something else I saw two summers ago, I was sat out in the garden of a house I was renting in Chapeltown looking up at the sky towards Grenoside/Wharncliffe when I saw a silver plane fly into a cloud, I kept watching expecting it to appear out of the other side but it didn’t, I kept looking as the cloud it had flown into melted away and disappeared within seconds. It was very weird and left me questioning whether I’d imagined the whole thing.

  19. andy owens says:

    Hi Dave,
    Mrs Anita Skinner mentions she took photos of these grey planes over the moors. Did she send the photos in? And what do you think of them?
    Andy Owens
    http://www.andyowensbooks.co.uk

  20. Ian Beckett says:

    Dear Dr Clarke

    My family and I frequently holiday on Loch Ness (now I know what you’re thinking!) on the wooded and very steep eastern side near Foyers and Fort Augustus. On many occasions we have been startled by extremely low-flying military C130’s appearing, seemingly out of nowhere, over ridges or through gaps in treelines. There is often little or no sound of engines until after the aircraft have passed (engine noise surpression systems and terrain reflection?), and the unbelievable low-level agility of these huge planes would, I think, make the casual observer think the plane may be crashing. Also, they pass so quickly that it is really easy to lose visual contact with them – you could easily believe they had ‘vanished’ – and the night sorties I presume would use NV technology so no need for much illumination. They also appear capable of flying at a very low speed (with cargo ramp open) that can seem almost like a glide. A plausible explanation for most of the ‘ghost-plane’ sightings?

  21. Alan stafford says:

    Hi, I took my 3 children to see the wreckage of the superfortress on bleaklow yesterday and as we were walking towards the site from bleaklow head all 4 of us saw a plane flying very close to the ground it didnt make a sound, came from nowhere and was visible for a few seconds then went behind a Ridge and was gone, we all expected a crash but nothing.
    We went to look and found nothing. The plane was shaped liked a bomber but was only a dark sort of colour and only the shape was visible with no markings or Windows etc.
    It has fascinated us and they can’t stop talking about it

  22. Gareth says:

    I was driving down the road from the bamford-hathersage stretch of main road in the Peak District, Derbyshire and panicked when I saw a large aircraft appear from the left of the road and fly right infront of my vehicle windscreen. It was not very high in the air, perhaps 50 / 60 feet. It came from the left of the road and flew at a downward angle as if it was going to crash land in a field beyond the row of trees on the right hand side of the road. Naturally when I saw this I slowed down but didn’t stop. Couldn’t frankly believe what was drifting across the road ! A huge vintage WWII resembling aircraft !!!! I just looked at it in awe to be honest. It was green all over and didn’t make a sound. I would have expected to have felt some movement in the vehicle or have heard something but it moved like a glider. But I was too big and didn’t look like a glider if you know what I mean. It had what looked like a blackened out front windscreen on the aircraft with a black antenna. Very distinctive both were black. It had no clear visible markings like aircraft did in wartime. No writing or patterns on it. It was mostly green/with perhaps tints of yellow in colour. Like a camouflage. It made no sound and didn’t cause my vehicle to shake. I pulled over to the left and put my hazards on. I Was gobsmacked. I have seen Chanooks fly and jets fly over this area before and they are noise my they make the vehicle shake and fly far higher than this was. i wound down the window and could hear nor see nothing in the fields beyond the trees to the right of the road where it should have come down if it had landed. I still can’t believe what I saw. I thought is it some kind of massive glider plane but there was nothing there ? To me out of all the aircraft pictures I have looked at the front of it looks most like the Wellington.

    Anyway, I still can’t understand or believe what I saw. It was in clear daylight at around 1pm in the afternoon. It may sound bizarre but there were no other cars either infront or on the other side or the road coming the other direction. Not until the plane had gone out of sight and what I thought had crash landed but was no where to be seen. I thought I might just share this.

    Cheers

  23. Damien Tyson says:

    As fascinating as these sightings are, it surprises me that in the age of the smartphone, virtually no photographs exist.

  24. Jo Shepherd says:

    I have heard of recent ufo activity and military intervention in bolsterstone sheffield. locals have witnessed strange lights over the dam in this area with air force interception. This has been occurring for a while and continues today. Have you heard about this?
    Also the cattle mutilations happening in wale on the land of a woman millionaire. This has only been released at the Holmfirth UFO convention. A five year secret project, where over 1.000.000 photographs have captured an array of activity..

    • Michael Newark says:

      Were they Police Helicopters the ones who chased off the aliens, or Airforce jets over the dam.Here in Coventry its the boys in blue who chase them off, at mach 0.2, bless them.

  25. David says:

    Does anyone have any info/links to aircraft crashes along the North Wales coast involving an aircraft similar to a silver (ie. unlettered/unmarked/unpainted) Douglas DC-6B/DC-7B passenger aircraft that crashed with engines on fire?

    Thanks.

  26. Martin Hill says:

    The late Martin Caidin, a professional aviator as well as an aviation journalist and historian, wrote a book back in the mid-1990s called Ghosts of the Air: True Stories of Aerial Hauntings. The book has several stories of “ghost planes” from WWII being seen around old air fields in the UK, as well as spectral airmen. In researching the book, Caidin tried to keep his witnesses to professional or wartime aviators. The author speculated the ghost aircraft and other odd happenings in the air might be related to “time slips” proposed in quantum physics, and that the aircraft were not ghosts per se, but the original aircraft that had somehow momentarily slipped into a future time stream (ours). I just finished the book which is why I was researching this subject and came on your website. An interesting read — both yours and Caidin’s.

  27. David says:

    I’m posting this here for posterity – in case anyone else experienced it/for research purposes.

    A Boxing Day Ghostly aircraft on the North Wales coast.

    This goes way back to when I was in my early twenties. My girlfriend and I were both students and had driven from Chester to Nefyn, on the Lleyn peninsular, to visit her parents for Christmas 1977. Since one of us was working after Boxing day, we drove back to Chester on Boxing day night, along (what we now call) the old A55 coast road.

    A lot of accounts like this are third-party – someone knows someone who saw something. This we saw ourselves. Some accounts are brief or fleeting due to cloud, distance or obstructions. This was right in front of us, in perfectly clear weather, with no obstructions, brightly lit and lasted about a minute. Some can be attributed to Hercules or similar training exercises. Not this one. This happened 38 years ago, and this Christmas (2016/2017) is the first time in print.

    So we start in the little village of Nefyn on the Lleyn peninsular, North Wales. It had been snowing quite hard in North and North West Wales in the days before Christmas and the snow was still piled up along the sides of the roads. There had been a break in the weather on Boxing day and the snow ploughs had been out, but more snow was forecast for the following day. So although it was Boxing Day evening and about 9pm when the weather report for the next 12 hours came on TV, and even though we had a low-ish old Triumph Spitfire with an even lower exhaust, we decided to set off rather than get snowed in for a few more days. We had a shovel, warm clothing, sleeping bags and a map and we were young and reckless. There was always the RAC if we got stuck … if we kept track of where the last phone box we’d passed was, that is. No mobile phones back then.

    It was a crisp, clear freezing night with no cloud or wind and a very bright full moon. The sort of conditions where you can hear a sound from a great distance and the snow is crunchy underfoot. The roads, fields and hills were covered in snow and reflected the light of the moon, so the landscape was very bright.

    Because the snow had drifted and in places the ice patches were worse than we thought, we were taking it easy and so it was about 12.30am to 1am in the morning when we reached one of many of the small towns/villages on the coast road. The main traffic lights at the crossroads were at red and (blazing saddles-like) we stopped even though there was no other cars or people around. It was deathly quiet and completely deserted. We could see an old red GPO phone box and some buildings to our left at the start of the village with lights on, other buildings, along the main street going into the village on our left, were in darkness. Being Boxing day night and late, we hadn’t seen another car for quite a while in either direction.

    As the lights changed to green and we slowly picked up speed moving out of the orange street lights of the junction and eastwards along the unlit A55 into the countryside again, the trees and bushes to our left were replaced by a low stone wall with a flat view over brightly-moonlit farmland to the coast and the snow-covered headland ahead of us. On the other side of the road to our right was another similar stone wall, behind which was more sheep pasture, rising to a high ridge several hundred yards up and away from the road, topped by a row of tall pine trees.

    As this view opened up and appeared to our left, we both saw a large, old fashioned civilian passenger aircraft highlighted in sparkling silver against the black sky, very low, coming in from the coast, about half a mile to our left and half a mile ahead of us.

    The first thing that struck us at that moment was how old, how big and how low it was – from our position it seemed at the same height or perhaps a bit above the headland which was also clearly visible in the moonlight behind it. Secondly, it was obvious that flames were coming from the engines, and thirdly that at it’s current trajectory it was going to hit the ground very soon, and maybe not even clear the ridge to our right.

    We might have to go back to that phone box and report this to the police. We quickly skidded to a stop, turned off the engine and ran to the stone wall on our left to watch.

    The aircraft was similar to the type of small airliner or transport aircraft of the late fifties or early sixties that would typically carry 50 to 80 people – a long slim fuselage with low wings slightly swept back, with 2 radial propellor engines forward of each wing similar to a Douglas DC-6/DC-7

    The engines on the side of the fuselage that we could see (and we could also see No 1 engine on the left wing to begin with) were on fire and the flames were billowing backwards in the airflow, but almost in slow motion, like gas flames coming out of a model rocket travelling down a wire in the older children’s TV series, (think Thunderbird 5, if you’ve ever seen that) – it didn’t fit at all with the speed the aircraft was travelling. There was no smoke or roaring flames; just slowly billowing, soft flames. (Real DC-6/DC-7’s can exhibit a similar effect from an over-rich mixture – see 0.57 onwards: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOD25EjeFH8 )

    The fuselage was bright shiny silver in the moonlight and very clear. There wasn’t any markings at all on the fuselage, wings or tail that we could see, nor were there any navigation or landing lights lit, or any lights showing from any of the windows. The propellors were turning, although fairly slowly as if windmilling. The undercarriage and flaps were up. We didn’t see any movements of control surfaces as you might expect in a low and slow attempt at landing without power.

    Most eerily, there was no sound at all. Not from the engines, nor from the flames, nor from the movement of the airframe through the air. Even a fabric and wood glider makes a noise when flying, this was silent. It was ‘could-hear-a-pin-drop’ conditions, and we heard no sound at all.

    It was doubtful whether this would clear the row of pine trees on the high ridge to our right. We were expecting it to crash into the rising ground well before it reached the ridge. So we watched and waited. It didn’t take long … slowly (and unbelievably) it cleared the tall pine trees on the ridge with a small amount of height to spare.

    ‘Unbelievably’ because it seemed to move far too slowly, and although it was descending, it didn’t seem to be coming down anything like as quickly as it should at that slow speed.

    As we lost sight of it going over the pine trees, we waited for the explosion or sound of a crash. At the angle and speed it was descending it should have hit the ground within 15 to 30 seconds or so after we lost sight of it, even if the ground dropped down on the other side of the ridge. But there was no sound at all.

    We watched for several more minutes before we got too cold and had to get back into the car, but we didn’t see it again – and with the flames and bright silver wings and fuselage, we would have seen it in the moonlight if it had pulled up above the line of the trees, even at a distance – but there was still no sound of engines, nor of a crash.

    The whole sequence from when we got out of the car to when we lost sight of it took about a minute or so at most.

    Apart from the absolute silence, the strange thing was how it managed to fly the distance from the coast, over the A55, and then further inland without any engine power – an aircraft of that size, at that height, and travelling at that slow speed (without power) should have crashed within a few seconds of our first sight of it, and certainly before it reached the A55.

    It also flew very steadily and serenely, as if it was making a planned landing in perfect conditions under power at an airport – there were no movements of the ailerons, rudder or tail surfaces to correct it’s flight path that you would expect if it was a real aircraft and the pilot was attempting to control it’s descent and attitude in an emergency landing at slow speed. The landing speed of a DC-7B is around 95 knots – that’s about twice the speed it actually seemed to be travelling. I’d been a staff cadet at a RAF Volunteer Gliding School every Sunday from age 16 to 19 and from the same starting position and height, a Sedbergh MkIII glider might have made it to the A55 or a bit past it into the field on our right, but wouldn’t have reached – let alone have enough altitude to clear – the ridge to our right. Yet this did.

    Also, the fuselage of the aircraft was in line with its angle of descent, which was odd – you would expect the nose to be raised at such slow speed or when coming in to land to give more lift. Remember, the flaps weren’t extended. The whole impression was that of a model airliner, moving along a sloping wire, being filmed in a special effects studio for a sixties or seventies movie – except that we were stood at the side of the road watching it happen before us in the sky.

    We compared notes on the way home and we had both seen exactly the same thing, although what we had seen didn’t make sense. My girlfriend rang her parents the next day to tell them and ask if there were any news stories on the Welsh TV channels about an aircraft crashing or if anyone else had seen it, but nothing had been reported; and nothing was reported over the following weeks in the local newspapers either.

    And as far as I know, there aren’t any airfields or flat ground in that area on which an aircraft of that size could have planned to land safely from that height, especially without engines or lights, even on a moonlight night. It’s something we both still remember, and something which is still unexplained.

    If anyone else saw what we saw, please get in touch via these comments (hope you won’t mind, David) – it would be good to compare notes, so to speak.

  28. Michael Newark says:

    With so many people reporting sightings of old WW2 aircraft, I just wonder if this is common around the world, or is this happening just in the UK. Where the sightings are reported have to be special places, and should be checked out for anything out of the ordinary like Ley Lines and ancient sites.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s