A video captured inside the cockpit of a Kuwaiti Air Force F/A-18 Hornet shows what it’s like to have your ride struck by lightning when you’re cruising at 30,000 feet. The footage was uploaded to Twitter on Friday and quickly made the internet rounds, but as shocking as the footage may be, the Hornet likely suffered no real damage in the incident.
Turn your sound on to hear the crack of the lightning recorded by the cockpit camera:
— محمد بن خالد (@MbKS15) December 28, 2018
It’s not unheard of for a jet to go down due to lightning strike — as The Aviationist pointed out, one instance in the 1980s saw the fuel vapors of an F-16 Fighting Falcon’s empty center-line tank ignite when the plane was struck by lightning. The ensuing explosion damaged the aircraft’s hydraulic systems and brought it down — but such an occurrence is incredibly rare. The last time a commercial airliner was brought down by lightning in the United States was actually 1967, but that’s not because lightning strikes don’t occur with more frequency than that.
While they are rare (an average of one lightning strike per year is reported by American aviators) all commercial and military aircraft are hardened against lightning strikes through the use of a Faraday Cage of sorts. For those who haven’t caught the latest seasons of “Doomsday Preppers,” a Faraday Cage is a shield or enclosure made out of conductive material that is designed to diffuse current around an internal compartment. As a result, Faraday Cages (named after English scientist Michael Faraday) are a common facet in hardened military installations and prepper compounds alike to serve as a means of defense against Electromagnetic Pulse attacks (either direct, or indirect as a result of a nuclear explosion).
It turns out, this trick works for more than guys that like to stockpile MREs in their basements, it also keeps airplanes like this guy’s Hornet airborne after a strike.
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