Northern Ireland

'Mystery' low-flying aircraft was RAF training flight

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Media captionBrian Cassidy filmed the plane flying low over Ballycastle beach in County Antrim

A large, low-flying aircraft filmed along Northern Ireland's coast has caused a stir on social media, with even police asking what it was up to.

The plane was spotted from Ballycastle beach in County Antrim and over parts of County Down on Tuesday.

The Newry and Mourne PSNI team posted a Twitter appeal for information and photos so they could investigate.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has since confirmed it was a military plane on a training exercise.

'Awesome sight'

The MoD spokesman told the BBC he could confirm that there was "a low level training flight within Low Flying Area 19", which he said refers to Northern Ireland.

The aircraft was a RAF C130-J Hercules.

Image copyright PSNI Newry and Mourne Twitter
Image caption The PSNI posted this picture of the plane flying low over Crohill Road in Newry, after appealing for photos on Twitter

It was seen in Ballycastle, Newry, Warrenpoint, over the Mourne Mountains and over the dual carriageway between Portrush and Ballymena.

Brian Cassidy, a healthcare worker from Belfast, was on a day-trip to Ballycastle beach with his children when they spotted the plane flying low towards Torr Head.

He took out his phone and filmed it passing overhead and posted the footage on his Twitter account.

Mr Cassidy described it as a "awesome sight" but said he had no idea what it was doing.

He told the BBC he was surprised at the interest and reaction his footage got from Twitter users.

Image copyright Conor Conneally
Image caption Conor Conneally photographed the plane flying low over Lough Erne as he was in a boat with his family

The plane was also spotted in Ballygawley in County Tyrone.

Cheryl Nugent was in her back garden when it flew overhead.

"She was loud coming across over the village," Ms Nugent said.

"We didn't know what it was at first. It flew over, coming across from Enniskillen-direction as if it was going on towards Belfast.

"It was just over the trees, maybe the height of two two-storey houses."

However, not all eyewitnesses were impressed by the impromptu aerobatic display.

'Really frightening'

Nicola Payne told the BBC she was driving home from Portrush to Ballymena on Tuesday and saw the plane as she was travelling down the dual carriageway.

"It was dipping, twisting, making sharp turns - it wasn't normal flying behaviour.

"It then came into line with the carriageway and it looked like it was going to crash-land - it was really frightening.

"It was that low we could actually see the pilot and cars were slowing down. It was maybe flying around the height of a tall tree."

'Mystery solved'

On Wednesday, the Newry and Mourne PSNI team announced the "mystery" had been solved.

"I've made some enquiries with the MoD and they confirmed that there was a military aircraft flying in these areas yesterday and was conducting low level navigation training," a PSNI spokesperson wrote on their Twitter account.

They added: "No need to go to any of the air shows now!"

Image copyright Harry Hawkins
Image caption Harry Hawkins was hiking in the Mourne Mountains on Tuesday when he took this photo of the plane

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