Phantom Planes Overhead?

Me and My Small Folk, Spooky Stories

We took full advantage of the glorious spring weather this afternoon, and headed out for a river walk from Hoveringham to Fiskerton, not far from where we live.  The River Trent winds round luscious meadows and woodlands, with plenty of cows, ducks and grumpy geese to greet walkers along the way.  On a day like today, it really is a little piece of heaven.

Half way through our walk, we heard a small plane circling overhead that, once spotted, quickly disappeared from sight.  It was at this exact point that we came across the stone memorials to the crews of two Lancaster bombers that crashed within weeks of each other in 1945.  It was hard to imagine that such a pretty piece of countryside had once been the scene of such devastating tragedies.  Though we quickly established that the plane we heard was very much real – as it whooshed above our heads once again – this did set me thinking about some of the accounts of phantom planes that I have read over the years, particularly those connected to wartime disasters.


Memorial at Hoveringham, Nottinghamshire.

A common theme in sightings of ghostly planes, is the sense that they are re-enacting the moments before they crashed.  Witnesses have reported hearing engines spluttering and seeing aircraft heading towards the ground.  Sometimes people believe they have seen a crash, other times the planes just vanish from sight.

Locals living in the ‘Dark Peak’ area of the Peak District, have reported numerous sightings of silent planes flying low before disappearing from view.  The Dark Peak has been the place of more than 50 plane crashes over the years; many of them wartime disasters.  Recent sightings of a Douglas Dakota plane have made the newspapers, with a witness reporting seeing the jet “… sideways on and then it vanished.”  In 1997, many people saw and reported an old plane with propellers crash on the moors just outside of Sheffield, but despite a large rescue operation, no sign of the aircraft was ever found. Spooky!


A Lancaster flying over the Lady Bower reservoir, Derbyshire.

The wide and varied witness accounts I have read whilst looking into this subject, suggest that this is a plausible phenomena (i.e. people aren’t just making it up!) though it just seems very sad to me that these ghostly planes are destined to re-enact their final descent to Earth again and again.  Perhaps there is some kind of peace for the lost crews in doing so, or perhaps they just don’t want people to forget their sacrifice.

I wonder if the planes that crashed at Hoveringham ever return to fly their doomed path. It will certainly make me think next time I hear an engine overhead…

Further reading:
Ghost Fliers







Poor William Hoby & his Ghostly Mum

Spooky Stories

Bisham Abbey

I love a good ghost story, especially one that may just be true.  One that sticks in my mind is that of naughty William Hoby and his even naughtier mum, Lady Elizabeth Hoby.  If anything, it’s a story that will make you think twice about not doing your homework…


Back in the 1500s, Sir Thomas and Lady Elizabeth Hoby lived with their children at the grand Bisham Abbey on the banks of the River Thames.  Poor old Sir Tom died, leaving Lady Elizabeth alone to bring up the children.  Being a proper lady and good chum of Queen Elizabeth I, Lady Elizabeth wanted the very best for her children and took personal charge of their education.  She was a pretty cold, unfeeling mother and a very strict teacher; a bad combination for little William Hoby.  William was the Hoby’s youngest son, and though he tried, he simply wasn’t very bright or willing to learn.  He often made mistakes and blotted his schoolbooks.  None of this went down wellwith his mum, who shouted at him and beat him on a regular basis.

One day, William did everything wrong.  Lady Elizabeth was already in a bad mood, but the sight of her son’s messy work tipped her over the edge.  Particularly nasty versions of the story suggest that she beat him severely, led him to a cold tower room and tied him to a chair, insisting that he copy out his work again and again until he got it right.  Lady Elizabeth then left William alone and locked the door behind her.

A few hours later, Lady Elizabeth received a message from her buddy Queen Liz, summoning her to some kind of exciting happening at Windsor Palace.  Off she went, without a second thought for the little boy she had left on his own.  Can you see where this is going now?!…

liz hoby

Lady Elizabeth Hoby


Later that week, Lady Elizabeth returned home and asked where William was.  She probably assumed he was still sulking or lazing around somewhere.  Her house staff looked blankly at her and said that having not seen him, they assumed he had gone away with her to Windsor.   The penny dropped.  Lady Elizabeth dashed up to the cold tower room, but her poor boy was dead.

Filled with sorrow and sadness for her actions, Lady Elizabeth never forgave herself for the death of her son.  She died in 1609, but her ghost – the grey lady of Bisham Abbey – has been seen numerous times since.  She is often seen wandering the grounds, wringing her hands in remorse.  She has also been seen in the house itself, sometimes materialising from her large portrait that still hangs in the hall.

In the 1800s, building renovations at Bisham Abbey uncovered several 17th century schoolbooks, some of which were terribly blotted and riddled with corrections by a strict teacher.  Could these be the books of poor little William?