ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What happens when lightening strikes an airplane

Updated on August 13, 2015

Lightening proves more dangerous on land

Learn about how planes pull through it

The sky was darkening over the Kansas City Airport on a nippy October morning as a thunderstorm was approaching. As my husband and I got seated and ready for the average 3 hour and forty minute flight from Kansas City to Phoenix, an announcement was made of rain and storms hovering over Kansas City while mild weather and clear skies where awaiting at our destination. After a ten minute wait for the traffic controllers to give our flight the go, our aircraft was ready for takeoff. Seconds later we lifted up in between grayish clouds eager to go back home.


And then it happened......After about 60 seconds of being up in the air, out of nowhere a bolt of lightening shook our entire aircraft. Followed were surprised expressions from passengers asking :"What was that"? Having been assigned a window seat, I had seen it all : the blinding light striking for a flash second the wing and fuselage.

Minutes of uncomfortable silence followed, where perhaps we were all thinking the same thing: if there was some structural damage and if we were going to do an emergency landing. I guess we were all reassured from the aircraft still proceeding towards our destination and no special announcements from the cabin.

As scary as it can be, aircrafts are built to withstand all the variety of surprises mother nature has in reserve. On average it is estimated that every aircraft will be struck by lightening at least once a year. Put it all together and you will have a feel of how many planes are hit with little or no consequences.

The secret of the aircraft's resistance to lightening stands in its composition. The aluminium coverage acts as a good conductor of electricity causing the lightning bolt to travel from point A to point B while avoiding its precious interior cargo: the passengers. Typically, a bolt may strike the nose of the plane or the tip of a wing travelling up to the tail and exiting from there.

Surge protectors will help preserve vital instruments and the mile long wiring from being destroyed by the electrical bolt. These requirements are strictly regulated by the FAA to ensure the safety of all crew and passengers.

While the fuselage and the plane's interior are pretty much safe, engine fuel may be a concern. In 1962 a commercial Panam flight crashed because of a bolt of lightening causing a fuel tank explosion and 81 casualties.All it takes after all, is a small spark to have the engine explode with all the dim consequences. Fortunately, after such incident, stricter regulations were put in place requiring all the aluminium area covering the engines to be extra thick and lightening proof.

Upon un-boarding the plane, an announcement was made that the plane had to undergo a thorough inspection and the incident had to be reported to the FAA. As my husband and I waited our connecting flight we were able to see some dark streaks left from the lightening's burn marks. The plane was then finally inspected by an engineer placed inside a large basket and lifted on top of the fuselage.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)