A highly charged cloud moves over a flat terrain. In order to discharge and cause lightening to strike, a very slight elevation in the terrain is all that is required. This elevation would reduce the "spark gap" and then lightening would strike. Before it reaches that critical point, an aircraft flies between the charged cloud and the terrain. Obviously the metal body of the aircraft will reduce the spark gap. In such a case will the body of the aircraft facilitate lightening and will the aircraft suffer damage?
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Thank you very much SidKemp for the clear answer. :)
Good point - the primary charge is in the Earth, not the cloud, and the plane has less charge than the Earth. I was forgetting that lightning goes upward!
Yeah, it happens so quickly that you would hardly notice the start and the finish! I'll take your advice and lie flat on the ground during a storm! Thanks for commenting !!!