Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England

Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear


Driving up the M74 in Scotland (between J12 and 13) yesterday I was scooting along in lane two, I needed to overtake the vehicle in front; check mirror; but I couldn’t really make out what I was seeing, it didn’t make sense; at first I thought the mirror was broken, there was a long greenish, blackish, slash diagonally across the wing mirror, it didn’t compute. So I looked over my shoulder, as you do; OMG, coming up lane three (that how it looked from where I was sitting) was a plane; I kid you not; that’s was the image filling my wing mirror; a very large, very low RAF transport plane, was flying up the motorway. Banking at about 45 degrees it came straight over our heads, Mr UHDD reckoned it to be at a height of around 200ft (and he is less prone to exaggeration than I am!) the children thought it was going to crash on the motorway.

Although I was more than a little startled to see it coming, judging by the long ripple of brake-lights and slowing traffic in front of us, a lot of people were taken by surprise; for drivers on the southbound carriageway it must have looked like it was flying straight at them.

I said that I had ‘never seen anything like that in my wing mirror before’, Tom and Mr UHDD said they thought they had seen an avatar that bore a striking resemblance to what I described, and Tom has found it for me.


Yep, that is pretty much how it felt! I have often seen low flying RAF planes in the Lake District, as Purple Plus describes here, but should this one have been there? Flying so low over a busy motorway? It was risky, it could easily have caused an accident, just by the amount of distraction it caused. It was a moment that is now locked into the family archives of Scotland 2007

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Author: uphilldowndale

Watching the rhythm of rural life, from the top of a hill in northern England. Having spent most of my life avoiding writing, I now need to do it! I am no domestic goddess, but if I were expecting visitors to my home, I would whisk round with the duster and plump up the cushions and generally make the place look presentable. I hope that by putting my words where others may see them it will encourage me to ‘tidy up and push the Hoover around’ my writing. On the other hand I may just be adding to the compost heap. Only time will tell! Pull up a chair, sit yourself down, I’ll put the kettle on.

18 thoughts on “Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

  1. There are low-level flying areas for military aircraft throughout the UK, including Cumbria and parts of both Scotland and Wales. I’ve been driving in Scotland and looked down on aircraft which is pretty disconcerting. What you saw was almost certainly a RAF Hercules which do practise flying as low as 50ft in such areas although it would normally be higher, say 250ft.

  2. We didn’t think it was quite big enough for a Hercules, but it did have four propeller engines

  3. I also had a formation of RAF planes part me hair while I was on a walking tour of the Peak District. I thought they were giddy boys having a goose at the peasants.

  4. I know they have to train somewhere, but I did wonder if they were having a joke at our expense, they effect of the traffic was very visible and on fast moving motorways there are few ‘small bumps;’ incidents tend to be ‘multiple pile ups’.
    Re the Peak District, were you near the Derwent Valley? Training home of the second world war, RAF 617 squadron AKA the ‘Dam Busters’

  5. As it had four engines it was almost certainly a Hercules. There are standard and long fuselage versions, so it was probably the former which do tend to do this type of flying.
    It could have been slightly lost as I don’t think that they normally overfly roads like that simply for the reasons that you’ve said.
    If there was an road accident the insurance claim forms would make interesting reading!
    Have a good weekend.

  6. Blimey! That must have scared the life out of you!

    I agree – very distracting, and dangerous.

  7. Just checked the Derwent Valley on Google maps… no, i was buzzed at the foot of the Pennines, at Youlgreave. If they’d been any closer, and i’d have treadmark tatooes up my back! Can’t you petition the gov’t to do anything?

  8. The old Denver (Colorado, US) Stapleton International Airport used to have one of their runways built as a highway overpass. You’d be driving down Interstate 70 (towards a short tunnel) when suddenly there would be this 727 rolling blithly right in front of you …


  9. P.S. You still have “top oh a hill” in your blog banner (-:

  10. The pilots have to practise low level flying in order to keep their edge, how would u expect a pilot to operate succesfully in combat without prior practise, for example tornados the “LOW LEVEL” bomber, pilots of the tornados often fly below rader level, often as low as 10ft, in combat in order to maintain an element of surprise in the mission, personally i would much rather see our pilots distract me and get the practise than die in combat protecting our country so we can enjoy the freedoms like long walks and the freedom to drive where we please.

  11. Imagin the fright this poor lorry driver got with a hercules!

  12. I was driving down the M74 today (heading South) and experienced almost the same thing. I am travelling along at 70mph minding my own business rounded a bend and the plane was coming straight for me at around 200ft above me. It actually took a second for my brain to register the fact I was actually seeing a plane coming towards me, I thought the thing was going to crash or land on the motorway, have to say it took a bit for my poor heart to slow down !

  13. Today Monday 22 July 2013
    On the m74 about 10 or 20 miles north of Lockerbie was driving at 70 mph when a raf herc plane came over the top of the hill swaying wildly from side to side then drives straight towards our car !! We all shit ourselfs thought it was going to crash into us horrified

  14. O.M.G Driving down the M74 south bound last Friday, we could not believe our eyes, as a huge dark coloured plain was heading right for us, I was so scared I could not move, I had to rub my eyes to make sure I had,ent fallen asleep and was dreaming. Where on earth did it come from, and why was it flying over a Moterway, Thought it was time to meet my maker.

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