Terrifying Moment Lightning Strikes Airplane Wing Caught On Video

Footage uploaded online recently shows the terrifying moment that the wing of a passenger airplane is hit by lightning while flying through turbulent weather.

Mitchell and Amy Stewart onboard Etihad Airways Boeing 777-300ER Flight 37 from Abu Dhabi International Airport to Charles De Gaulle Airport in France witnessed the terrifying moment Wednesday.

Mitchell, who sat by the window during the seven-hour flight from Abu Dhabi International Airport, managed to capture the impressive display of natural fireworks.

The video, posted to YouTube on February 3, 2016, has gone viral online with tens of thousands of views on YouTube alone. The video was also uploaded to Reddit.

The rare footage shows the moment that a mesmerizing spiral of electrical discharge emerges from the clouds and touches the right wing of the airplane as it approaches Charles De Gaulle Airport in France on Wednesday.

The lightning bolt strikes the tip of the passenger airplane’s right wing as it flies through clouds.

Mitchell said the airplane made a safe landing at about 2 p.m. local time, shortly after the lightning strike.

“The plane went on to make a safe landing in Paris shortly after,” Amy and Mitchell explained in the video description on YouTube.

Online viewers have marveled at the steady hands of the videographer who appeared totally unperturbed by the scary-looking electrical discharge. Some viewers compared the lightning to a Harry Potter-like spell cast on the plane in the sky.

“The movement of the plane as it created that connection is just awesome to see. The continuing residual trail was even better. Incredible capture.”

“How did the camera catch the lightning so perfectly? Every other video I’ve seen of lightning, the camera flares and the image is washed out.”

“[I]Would not have been able to hold the camera still like that. I’d be too busy trying to keep from shitting myself!”

But some Reddit users suggested that the video does not actually show a direct hit.

“That is a static discharge. The strike was on the opposite wing.”

Commercial airliners are often hit by lightning. In August 2015, for instance, an amateur videographer captured the moment that lightning struck a Delta Air Lines plane before take off at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

To prevent air accidents due to lightning strikes, commercial planes are provided with effective shielding that protects the plane from damage and the passengers from feeling the impact of lightning strikes. In most cases, passengers are unaware that the plane has been hit by lightning.

The Daily Mail reports that a spokesperson for Etihad Airways explained that modern passenger aircraft are designed and equipped with devices that prevent damage to aircraft and protects passengers.

“Around the world, aircraft are struck by lightning on a daily basis, and are equipped with devices which prevent the accumulation of static electricity. The amazing footage captured by our guest on flight EY37 from Abu Dhabi to Paris demonstrates this brilliantly,” the spokesperson said.

Captain Steven Draper, a spokesperson for the British Airline Pilots Association, (BALPA) explained, “Lightning strikes do not affect the flying of an airplane. In many cases there is little or no damage caused by lightning strikes. However, sometimes a small part — often the nose cone — needs to be replaced. Areas that are prone to lightning damage are normally fairly straightforward to replace.”

“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,” he added.

The incident comes after two Australian friends, Nick Panayiotou and Daniel Dudman, narrowly escaped (see video above) being struck by lightning while filming a thunderstorm in Oyster Bay, a suburb about 20 kilometers southwest of Sydney, Australia.

[Image via Andre Wadman/Wikimedia]