Getting hit by lightning at ground level is scary enough, but when you’re 30,000 feet up in the air, it’s nothing less than terrifying—or amazing.
Not that the lightning hit Etihad Airways passenger Mitchell Stewart himself, but when he saw the bolt of electricity hit the plane’s right wing and managed to capture it, it was undoubtedly a sight to see, turbulent weather or not.
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The footage was captured during the flight from Abu Dhabi to Paris, and Stewart saw the lightning strike from his window seat just as the jet was approaching the Charles de Gaulle Airport. Luckily for him and the rest of the passengers, their aircraft was able to make a safe landing in Paris shortly after.
Seeing a lightning bolt strike the plane that you’re in may be terrifying to see, but in reality, planes get hit by lightning all the time, and these aircraft are equipped to take them.
A spokesperson for Etihad said, “Around the world, aircraft are struck by lightning on a daily basis and are equipped with devices which prevent the accumulation of static electricity. Following a reported lightning strike a maintenance procedure is completed before the aircraft is released for its next flight.
“The amazing footage captured by our guest on flight EY37 from Abu Dhabi to Paris demonstrates this brilliantly.”
Stewart’s video went viral after he posted it on YouTube, where it mesmerized over 50,000 viewers. One commented, “The movement of the plane as it created that connection is just awesome to see. The continuing residual trail was even better. Incredible capture.”
Still, others thought it was not the lightning anymore that hit Stewart’s side of the wing, but rather, a static discharge. A Reddit user noted that the strike was actually on the opposite wing.
Direct lightning hit or not, the mesmerizing capture is a rarity.
A British Airline Pilots Association spokesperson said that lightning strikes don’t affect the plane’s flying pattern, although some pilots may employ procedures to avoid the worst of the storms.
The spokesperson, Seven Draper, shared, “Airplanes have a published turbulence speed, which provides the best passenger comfort and protection from the turbulence. In a storm the pilot may adopt that speed. Other procedures a pilot might employ include turning up the flight deck lighting to reduce the dazzling effect of lightning and ensuring the aircraft ice protection is on.”
It is rare for lightning strikes to cause big damage to aircraft; however, there are times when small parts of the plane need replacement after getting hit by thousands of bolts of electricity. But as Draper explained, these pieces are normally easy to replace.
He added, “After landing the pilot would make an entry in the Aeroplanes Technical Log referring to the lightning strike so the engineers can check the aeroplane for damage. There are also some other forms to fill out.”