The Bizarre Phantom Ghost Planes Of Derbyshire, England

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
April 6, 2018
Last Updated
October 4, 2021
Estimated Reading Time
6 min read
Posted in
Supernatural, Ghosts & Hauntings

In March 2018, a number of stories circulated in tabloid and local newspapers about sightings of “ghost planes” over the skies of Derbyshire, an otherwise serene and sleepy county in England. As outlandish as the claims are, sightings like these have happened over the skies of the Peak District for a considerable time.

A depiction of a ghost plane

Do ghost planes really exist?

This would make a certain amount of sense given the number of planes that have also plummeted to their ends in the same region. So much so that some refer to the region as the “Bermuda Triangle of England”. Over fifty planes have fallen from the skies here, with the overall death toll in excess of three-hundred people. Bizarre sightings of this nature are certainly not exclusive to Derbyshire, or even the United Kingdom. Recently, however, this part of the world appears to be a hub of something very extraordinary.

Although reports have come from all over Derbyshire and the moors of the Peak District, there appears to be increased activity over Howden Moors. In April 1995, for example, while walking his dog over the moor, retired postman, Tony Ingle, suddenly noticed a shadow fall over him. He looked up to see a huge 1940s plane about fifty-feet above him. Although he could see the movement of the propellers, he couldn’t hear any sound coming from the proud aircraft. Suddenly, he noticed it turn downwards, and witnessed it crash over a tall hedge in a nearby field. When he arrived there, there was no wreckage whatsoever. Incidentally, his dog refused the enter the field with him, and reportedly wouldn’t do so again.

We will look at another intriguing incident over the moors of Howden shortly, but another area of Derbyshire is also host to persistent sightings. Before we look at that, however, check out the video below. It looks a little further at the sighting of Tony Ingle.

The Plane Graveyard Of The Ladybower Reservoir

In the picturesque regions of the Upper Derwent Valley is the Ladybower Reservoir. In and around its serene lands are numerous aging pieces of aircraft long since crashed here. [1] The area (like many others in this region) was a testing ground for Allied aircraft during the Second World War. And as these rusting carcasses suggest, the region has seen its fair share of crashes.

Two particularly widely reported air disasters occurred within months of each other following the end of the Second World War in May and July of 1945. Both were on routine training missions and not in combat of any kind. The exact reasons for the crashes are not clear.

Many reports of a “World War Two-era” plane flying in the skies overhead are made by people in the area. [2] Most describe what appears to be a Lancaster Bomber, usually circling above. On occasion, these planes will even drop low and “swoop” over the valley before disappearing. One particular report describes a Lancaster Bomber flying extremely low to the ground before crashing into a hill. Flames and thick, black smoke rose up and were clearly visible to the witness. However, upon arriving at the crash site, there was no wreckage or indeed any evidence at all of a crash.

These sightings and the reports of them persist today.

A ruin of an aircraft in a field

Ghost planes over Derbyshire have been sighted regularly for years

1997 Howden Moor Incident

Shortly after 10 pm on 24th March 1997, multiple people would report a “small plane” flying low to the ground, [3] which then crashed and exploded somewhere on, or just above the Howden Moors.

The emergency services, under the coordination of the South Yorkshire Police (due to the area coming under Sheffield’s district), would search a location of fifty square miles over fifteen hours. In what was the largest ever air and ground response to an aircraft crash, with hundreds of personnel involved, no wreckage was found. Shortly after, it was declared that no plane or any other object had crashed after all.

Given the number of witnesses, and the dramatic numbers in terms of “search teams” for a small aircraft, many began to suspect a cover-up. And not merely of a crashed plane.

Over the following hours and into the next day, further reports came of seeing “military jets” in the area around the same time as the apparent crash. Furthermore, the RAF would put in place a “Dangerous Flying Zone” over the site with a ten-mile radius. This would result in planes arriving at Manchester Airport “stacking” at increasingly high altitude until the restrictions were lifted. The reason given for the restrictions was to allow search helicopters to conduct a search of the area without having to worry about other aircraft. To some, that appeared excessive and appeared more in line with “recovering” materials and wreckage in a clandestine way.

Officially, the incident is “unexplained”, although several theories are available as to what might have happened that cold early-spring evening in 1997.

UFO, Ghost Plane, Or “Something” Else?

Some UFO researchers, most predominantly Max Burns, believe there is more to come in terms of declassified files regarding this case. David Clarke and Martin Jeffrey would also state in their report that “senior (South Yorkshire Police) officers remain convinced that the truth about what really happened is still to be revealed!”

Does that suggest a UFO crash that was covered-up by high-ranking intelligence posing as search-and-rescue teams? Is this the real reason for the restrictions on the flying zone over the scene the following day?

Or, as some residents believe, was the sighting nothing more than a “ghost plane” much like those witnessed at the Ladybrook Reservoir? As we mentioned before, the area is a hot-spot within a hot-spot for such sightings.

More conservative but no less intriguing suggestions are that the plane crash was part of an “illicit drug run”. Peak National Park ranger, Brian Jones would state that “I see no reason why a civilian aircraft would be flying at that time of night as low and hill-toping as it was!” A local inn-landlord agreed, stating that “something definitely flew over here” but that in many local people’s opinion, who witness “a lot of low flying craft” in the area the belief is it “could have been a drugs drop!”

Another train of thought, particularly given the presence of military jets was that people heard and witnessed a sonic boom. What those Jets were doing there in the first place, however, is another conspiracy in itself. Were they taking part in a military operation that ended terribly? We will look at this particular incident in more detail in a future article.

The video below features Max Burns speaking of the incident.

Sudden Wave of Sightings

In late-March 2018, coincidentally or not almost eleven years to the date of the Howden Moors incident, dozens of reports came in regarding “old World War Two” planes flying over the skies of Derbyshire. [4] The wave of initial sightings came on Monday 26th March between 6 pm and 7 pm and were reported in the local newspaper the following day.

The military claimed that the sightings were nothing more than a Hercules C-130 military plane on “training exercises”. Many of the reports, however, are full of detail and strikingly similar. And what’s more, many of them describe a plane quite different.

While some reports are of a Hercules military transport plane, others are distinctly of a Douglas Dakota, a transport plane utilized regularly by the Allies during World War Two. Perhaps more interestingly, many of the reports would include the strange detail of the entire sky turning “eerily dark” as the mystery craft went overhead. Many also mentioned a distinct lack of sound despite how low the planes were. Several accounts would also state that one of the planes appeared about to crash, while another followed apparently giving chase.

Following the publication of the story, a “flood of reports” would come from the public to the local paper. One resident would write on the papers social media page that he was on the A38 with his father. At around 6:45 pm “two aircraft flew over us. It was scary, they were so low. They made no sound and produced no contrails!” Another resident claimed the planes went over her house in nearby Belper. She said, “They were very low, huge, and quiet!”

As well as the lack of sound, many would report that the planes “were banking”. And the second plane was giving chase.

A Lancaster Bomber against a cloudy sky

Some years bring waves of sightings

“Real” Planes Chasing “Phantom” Planes?

The statement from the military that they had deployed a Hercules transport plane over the skies of Derbyshire on the evening in question might not be an untruth. Although it could still be a little misleading.

Some witnesses would claim to be able to hear one of the planes while the other was completely silent. Others claimed that “a second” plane appeared to be giving chase. Might it be that the military scrambled its own plane in response to sightings of the “phantom” planes? And if so, what would the reason be for this?


Why would the military feel the need to cover-up what appears to be a supernatural manifestation? Might that suggest that whatever is behind the phantom ghost planes lays a technology or a natural phenomenon that “they” would prefer the general public to remain ignorant of? Perhaps a portal of some kind that allows these “ghost planes” to skip between dimensions? Might the location of the nearby North Yorkshire Moors – which is a hot-spot for UFO activity – somehow have a connection?

The fact that these sightings in the same region have gone on for decades would suggest “something” is afoot. Even if we don’t know what that something is. This particular phenomenon might prove to be one where the reality is much more fascinating and mind-bending than most imagine.

Check out the video below. It looks at sightings of “ghost planes” in a little more detail.



1 The Spectral WWII Bombers of the United Kingdom, Brent Swancer, Mysterious Universe, July 17th, 2015
2 Ghost Planes of the Peak District of Derbyshire, Sheffield on the Internet
3 The Howden Moor Incident, The Real UFO Project
4 Dozens more sightings of silent ghost plane over Derbyshire, Nick Reid, Derby Telegraph, March 28th, 2018

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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  • Colette Pennington says:

    Fascinating reading, informative and interesting as I live in Derbyshire.

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