The Ghost Plane of Wetwang

by MJ Wayland

For years, the mystery of the ghost bomber has been part of the folklore of the district. On starless nights, sightings of the fuzzy image of a World War II Halifax aeroplane would frequently be reported in the skies above the remote East Yorkshire village of Wetwang. With no other explanation to hand, locals speculated that the area might be haunted by some tragic pilot who perished in an act of wartime heroism. The legend of the ghost bomber spread, until an aviation buff in the neighbouring village of Fridaythorpe admitted: ‘Er, sorry – but it’s probably all my fault.’

Richard Triner’s hobby is sketching. His favourite subjects are old airplanes and occasionally, to give inspiration, he projects a picture of an old bomber on to the night sky. The 52-year-old former RAF personnel officer began his night-time projections when he moved to the area seven years ago. It was at that time that the first sightings of a mystery four engined wartime bomber in RAF colours were reported. He carried on, unaware of the stir he was creating five miles away in Wetwang. ‘All the local newspapers carried stories but for some reason I didn’t see them,’ a sheepish Mr Triner said yesterday.

Then a friend told me about the latest spate, which started about three weeks ago. That’s when I was playing around with the image of a Halifax bomber to inspire me to sketch it. ‘I thought then that I’d have to tell people it’s me, but I hope everyone can see the funny side.’ Mr Triner, who cares full-time for his disabled wife Susan, added: ‘It might seem an eccentric thing to do but it’s harmless and I’m very sorry if I’ve upset anyone. ‘I use a 100-watt projector and need very dark nights, usually in the early evening. I can’t always get the image fully in focus, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

‘A ghostly appearance could be explained by the fact that the image often gets blurred. ‘It can look spooky and with clouds rushing past the image it probably looks like it’s moving. Over the years it must have looked like the Battle of Britain out there.’ Not all the locals, however, are convinced by Mr Triner’s explanation for the dozens of appearances of the Wetwang bomber over the years. He projects images of the Halifax only at night and when conditions are cloudy to give the best chance of a perfect image and many people claim they have seen the ghost aeroplane during the day.

I have tried to replicate Mr Triner’s projections with my 120 watt projector. I have tried day and night for many weeks with different weather conditions, and still haven’t produced a “Ghost plane”. I think Mr Triner, who is a sceptic wanted publicity and was probably bored”

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