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Re: REFLECTOR: Re: [c-a] Lightning strike

Oddly enough, I saw the results of a lightning strike in almost the
exact same circumstance -  but as strange as it may seem, it struck the
Velocity at the middle rudder hinge while it was parked on the ramp
between several metal airplanes, which apparently were not hit (at
least, not damaged).

The lightning reportedly arced over from the hinge to one of the
antennas, exploding the rudder off the winglet and boiling the foam
enough to completely distort the entire winglet (I do have pictures). 
After traveling down the antenna lead, it went to the rudder cable and
traveled down that until it hit the aileron counterweight and voided a
bit of foam there.  The rudder was thrown off the airplane, and the
rudder return spring was stretched out straight.

The radios were completely zapped, and magnetized all the steel in the
engine, including the engine mount.

I sgree, if it had occurred in flight, not much would be known about
it...  however, I'm not sure if  being struck in the air is as likely
(or more likely, or less likely) than being struck on the ground.  I
know that plastic airplanes can accumulate more charge than a metal
airplane, but where would the lightning go from there?  On the ground,
of course, it arcs over to ground.  In the air would it 'arc over' to
another cloud or something?

As for why it did not strike the other, metal airplanes, who knows? 
Pehaps the plastic plane had built up a charge that was more attractive
than the actual ground (would that be positive or negative - I forget..)

Anyway, lightning in the air is not good for any plane, and I recall
hearing of someone that this happened to who luckily survived - and I
think it was in a plastic plane..  I can't remember where I read it.. 
So, I guess the best thing to do is to stay away from areas of
lightning, as much as it can be predicted!

I wonder if the Glasair or Lancair or whomever is installing the
aluminum fiber mat, has really tested what a "typical" lightning bolt
can do to it..  Seeing the results of this, I really wonder if it would
possibly be worse (blow the skin off??)

-john rourke

Dave Black wrote:
> Andy,
> > I had a bolt of lightning hit my plane while it was on the ramp.  Do
> > glass airplanes have a greater chance of being hit by lightning or is
> > this just bad luck?
> I am not an expert on this, but this is what I believe to be true:
> 1) Glass planes are NO MORE attractive to lightning than metal ones.
> 2) Lightning strikes on glass planes causes MUCH MORE damage than to a metal
> one. Typical damage is an explosion of the fiberglass in the area of the
> strike. Equivalent damage to a spam can would be a small hole.
> As far as parking outside, the odds are you will not be hit again any time
> soon. To improve those odds, I guess you could install 10-foot tall lightning
> rods in the ground next to each winglet.
> Best,
> Dave Black
> Velocity RG