This is why a huge RAF plane was flying really low over Preston, Garstang and Lancaster

The largest plane in the RAF fleet was spotted flying low over Lancashire’s rooftops yesterday (Tuesday, March 22) - did you see it?

By Matthew Calderbank
Wednesday, 23rd March 2022, 4:00 pm

The awesome sight and sound of the huge Airbus A400M Atlas startled those on the ground as it roared at low altitude over Lancaster, Garstang and Preston.

In fact, the RAF jet was flying so low – just 250 feet in some areas – that people became alarmed and feared it might crash.

“Quite possible I was hallucinating but sitting at the traffic lights at lunchtime I thought I saw a large grey plane very low over the Croston Road / Oak Road area,” said Linda Roberts in Garstang.

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The RAF's huge Airbus A400M Atlas pictured flying low over Scorton picnic site yesterday (Tuesday, March 22)

“It looked as if we could nearly touch it. I actually thought it was crashing,” said one dog walker as it rumbled low over Scorton picnic site.

"I saw it too and was waiting for a crash, seemed too low and too slow,” said Ann Radcliffe.

"It came right over our house at Catterall basin and I thought the same,” added Michelle Aspinall. “I was expecting a big bang and a fireball.”

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The massive RAF jet spotted over Garstang yesterday (Tuesday, March 22)

The RAF said the aircraft and its squadron were taking part in low-altitude training over Lancashire before returning to base at Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

The giant transport aircraft – which can carry as many as 116 fully-equipped troops – was performing airdrops as part of the squadron’s routine training programme.

A short time later, the massive plane was spotted flying over Royal Preston Hospital as it continued its southbound journey back to base 180 miles away.

Though capable of flying at 40,000 feet, the plane and its crew had been cleared to operate at just 250 feet for yesterday’s training in Lancashire.

An RAF spokesman said: “An RAF Atlas A400M from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire was completing routine training in the Lancashire region.

"The RAF use a variety of locations around the UK for training as they provide complex airspace and differing challenges for our pilots to ensure we remain ready and able to deploy on global operations.”

With a whopping £80 million price tag, the A400M plays a vital role in the RAF fleet.

Along with its transport role, it can perform aerial refueling and medical airlift evacuation for up to 66 casualties and 25 medical personnel.

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