Peak District’s mystery ‘ghost plane’ puzzle solved?

Errwood Reservoir in the Goyt Valley, near Buxton. Photo by Victor Gibbons.
Errwood Reservoir in the Goyt Valley, near Buxton. Photo by Victor Gibbons.

Could one of the newest additions to the RAF fleet be one of the mysterious ‘ghost planes’ sighted across the Peak District?

There has been several reported sightings of low-flying aircraft across the area in recent years, sparking rumours of a ‘ghost plane’.

But a spokesman for the RAF said: “We are routinely flying over the Peak District and we have recently increased our fleet of A400m Atlas from eight to 22 so in the next two years we will be doing more test flights over the area.

“We tend to fly over the Peak District and Lake District because those areas are less populated which makes it safer for everyone involved.

“There is nothing to worry about - the Peak District is just one of the low-fly areas.

“Also the challenging landscapes provide good training conditions for our pilots who need to practice flying in extreme conditions.”

The A400M Atlas aircraft has four engines and is one of the largest and newest additions to the fleet at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

The new plane was spotted flying low over Errwood Reservoir in the Goyt Valley, between Buxton and Whaley Bridge, on Thursday.

Walker Sebastian Smith said: “I heard the noise first, then when I looked up I couldn’t believe how big it was. It was flying very low and was so fast.”

Low flying by military aircraft is carried out across the UK. A government spokesman said: “Low flying means a fixed-wing aircraft flying down to 250 feet from the ground or a rotary-wing aircraft flying down to 100 feet from the ground. Rotary-wing aircraft can be authorised to go lower than 100 feet.

“Low flying isn’t usually allowed in areas around airports, or towns and cities with populations of more than 10,000.”