Airliner struck by lightning while on approach to Chattanooga

Reported by: Erik Avanier
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Updated: 4/29/2013 12:11 am
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (WDED) – Passengers on board Allegiant Airline flight 804 to Chattanooga were startled Sunday morning when their plane was hit by lightning.

It happened about 100 miles from Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport when the MD80 aircraft was beginning to descend from a higher altitude into thick gray clouds.

“It was pretty scary and terrifying to see the actual lightning and feel the jolt of the plane,” said passenger Darcy Barella.

The plan took-off from St. Petersburg / Clearwater International Airport shortly after 7 A.M. and was due to arrive in Chattanooga by 8:30 A.M.

Prior to boarding the aircraft in Clearwater Florida, passengers were warned about a weather advisory in the Chattanooga area.

Nearly fifty minutes into the flight, the ride became very bumpy as the plane began to descend from a higher altitude with clear conditions into a lower altitude with dark clouds. When lightning hit the aircraft, many passengers including one flight attendant began to worry.

Several passengers seated near the rear of the aircraft with window seats confirmed to flight attendants that a bolt of lightning appeared to strike the planes right wing.

“I just happen to be looking out the window when lightning struck and it was like an explosion. It looked like it was inside the cabin but you could tell it was outside. My palms were never so sweaty while we were landing,” said passenger Tanaha Coontz.

The plane landed 15 minutes after it was hit and once it came to complete stop on the tarmac, a flight attendant came close to opening the rear left side emergency exit but later decided it was safe for everyone to get off at the front exit ramp.

Aside from some jilted nerves, no injuries were reported.
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