Man Captures Lightning Striking Plane and It's Terrifyingly Cool

Of all the things you hope don't happen while you're on an airplane, getting struck by lightning probably ranks pretty high up there...

Of all the things you hope don't happen while you're on an airplane, getting struck by lightning probably ranks pretty high up there, somewhere between being seated next to a screaming infant and, well, crashing. Remarkably, though, being hit by a bolt of mother nature's electricity while buckled to a seat in a giant metal tube in the sky isn't as dangerous as you might think. That's not to say it doesn't look scary as hell, as an incredible new video makes quite clear. 

While driving through a brief electrical storm last Thursday, Corey Crow of Anchorage, Alaska decided to turn on his dash cam to record the big show. At one point, while stopped at a red light, he noticed a particularly interesting bolt flash across the sky, and decided to play back the footage when he got home. That's when he discovered something pretty incredible. 

"[I got] home and looked at it and was shocked to see the lightning had passed through a plane passing by," Crow told KTVA.

Indeed, he'd manage to capture the precise moment a big bolt struck a passenger plane flying overhead. When you play it in slow motion, the clip also reveals a flicker ricocheting off the tail of the aircraft, even after the bolt has disappeared. The identity of the aircraft hasn't been confirmed and it's unclear how it felt from the perspective of those on board, but dang it looked pretty awesome from the ground.

Amazingly, planes get struck by lightning pretty regularly, and with few ill effects thanks to modern technology. On average, every airplane in the United States commercial fleet is struck more than once per year, according to a report in Scientific American. In fact, modern commercial aircraft are specifically engineered to be able to fly through lightning unfazed, thanks to a highly sophisticated system that protects the interior and all critical components (computers, instruments, etc.) in the event of a wildly powerful electrical surge. The last time lightning was linked directly to a commercial plane crash was back in 1967, after a bolt caused a fuel tank to explode. 

Frankly, you should probably worry more about a rogue pooper terrorizing your flight than a pesky bolt of lightning. 


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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.