If the best you can do when you're caught between the moon and New York City is fall in love--as the treacly eighties pop song had it—it seems safe to say that among the worst experiences you can have in a plane awaiting clearance to land at a major airport is to be struck by lightning. In a video filmed as ominous storm clouds gathered in the skies near London's Heathrow Airport, photographer Chris Dawson captured the dramatic spectacle of a bolt of lightning shooting through a Dubai-based Emirates Airbus 380 flight as it prepared for its descent. Dawson shot the video last month, but it has only recently surfaced in public.
"I saw the storm clouds gathering, and I thought conditions would be perfect for a lightning strike," Dawson told the UK Daily Mail.
Indeed they were, as the brief video below shows.
Astonishingly, the 500 passengers on the plane landed on the ground without incident. But as David Learmount of the air safety website Flightglobal explained to the Daily Mail, these incidents are fairly routine for airlines. "Planes get hit by lightning several times a year," Learmount said. 'They act as a conductor. Getting a good strike like this can look very dramatic but it might not make any impact. . . .The plane's body must contain metal so it can act as a conductor, allowing the electricity to pass through it. If it didn't have the metal, the plane could explode when hit."
- Airbus 380