A VISITOR to Barnoldswick was astounded to see a large grey aeroplane appear out of the mist near the Rolls- Royce factory - and then vanish.

The plane looked as though it was going to hit both her car she and her partner were travelling in, as well as nearby houses, but a second later it had disappeared without trace.

Moira Thwaites, a retired policewoman from Nelson, explained that she and her partner Malcolm Spensley, of Gargrave, were travelling towards Barnoldswick along Skipton Road at around 11.20am last Tuesday. As they approached Rolls-Royce's Bankfield factory both said they saw a huge, grey coloured plane - possibly a Lancaster bomber-type with four propellers - emerging silently from the mist to their right.

A split second later they were past it, but saw nothing more.

"It was so low I fully expected it to hit us, or at least hit the houses near the Bankfield site," she said. "We both fully expected to at least hear the impact of a crash, but there was nothing. And when we both looked back there was nothing. Whatever it was had vanished."

Mrs Thwaites added: "There wasn't a sound from the engine at all. It was really weird, but we both know what we saw and I just wondered if anyone else had reported seeing anything."

To try and explain her experience, Mrs Thwaites contacted aerial phenomena expert Donald Cooper, president of the Skipton research society SERIUS. He is now eager to hear from anyone else who has seen the same image, or witnessed something similar at another time.

"I spoke at length to Mrs Thwaites," said Mr Cooper. "She is a very sensible and intelligent person who, possibly because of her being an ex-policewoman, is not easily fazed.

"We know from research that 'phantom' aircraft have been seen around Yorkshire.

"It is difficult to come up with a reasonable explanation that people can understand. There is a lot of electrical energy and physics that we are not even aware of surrounding the earth and a site like Rolls-Royce itself generates a great deal of electrical energy. Mrs Thwaites is adamant what she saw was a plane, but whether it was something breaking through another dimension or paranormal activity I cannot tell her," he added.

Mr Cooper is investigating the sighting and would be interested to hear from anyone who may have witnessed something similar. He is also interested to hear from anyone who knows of planes crashing in the area. He can be reached on 01756 795006.