THE photos of a mysterious aircraft spotted last week, apparently in distress over Leominster, may be a trick of the eye suggests a local pilot.

In the pictures the aircraft appears to be heading directly towards the ground, leaving long trails of smoke behind it.

The photographer, Gwynn Rowlands, from the Newtown Cross area said he watched the plane apparently falling, before levelling out, and then plummeting again.

However, Matt Stocker of Shobdon Aerodome, said that in reality the jet was likely flying away from him at high speeds, which often creates the illusion that is moving downwards.

He added that the ‘smoke’ behind the plane was simply the trails caused by jet engines, however in the evening light it can appear more conspicuous that normal.

Mr Stocker said: “If it had been an aircraft in distress there would have been debris, and we would have heard about it by now.

“The contrails behind it are from a jet.

“When you look at it can seem like it’s going towards the ground but actually it’s going away from you.”

Tony Finnegan at the Civil Aviation Authority also believes it was a jet, possibly flying as part of a military operation.

He said: “In these situations when people notice something unusual, often it’s a military aircraft.”