What does it feel like when your plane gets hit by lightning?: originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and get insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
It scares the living daylights out of you! You think you are going to die!
The incident happened a couple of years ago.
I was seated just behind the first embarkation/disembarkation door on a 747-300. This was a window seat. The plane was relatively void of passengers, as this was a flight that had been delayed by more than 6 hours. So a lot of passengers had moved to other flights/airlines.
It was a rainy day, with thunder and lightning at the distance. Just as we had rotated (i.e. wheels up), and the aircraft continued its turbulent and shaky climb, I was peering out of the window, and saw that the thunder / lightning that seemed so far away, wasn't so far, I saw a few lightning strikes hit the field around the airport, and just then without warning...
I heard the loudest BANG! I had ever heard, accompanied with a very bright White light. I almost crapped out in my pants.
There is no shame in admitting. I jumped in my seat (as much as I could, since I was wearing a seatbelt) and screamed, Loudly! And just like when someone spooks you, you cross your arms and veer away! I did all this and then some!
Remember the aircraft was still climbing and we were about 1 minute into our take-off. I cannot stress enough how loud the sound was.
The entire aircraft seemed to have shook, and then a loud bang again. The lights did not go out (as they were off anyways). It was mid day and all windows shutters were up.
The cabin crew immediately rushed and came to my side of the seat and started peering out of the window gazing at the wings / engines. That's when I saw that Engine # 1 was smoking. The next thing I know (was too confused and honestly scared at this point) was that the pilot was now doing a pretty sharp U-turn and calling out for an emergency landing. The engine noise was loud, I guess with added power being given to them by the pilot to turn the aircraft around.
I'm thinking uh-oh, is this it? Is this how its going to end? Is this how I will die?
Long story short, we turn around and land. We were deplaned by stairs and that's when I saw it.
The lightning had hit the plane on two areas, one was about 10 feet under my window and about 3-4 rows back and one on the wing. The engine just crapped out, although it was fine (we flew the same aircraft after about 2 hours later). But that horrid slightly blackened mark beneath the window on the aircraft's fuselage - that really scared the shit out of me.
The entire experience was very scary. I have to give it to the pilot and the cabin crew for being so damn cool and composed during the entire process. Not knowing why we were doing an emergency landing (turns out standard procedure when Engine # 1 died out due to lightning strike), and the sharp turn the pilot took and the brace announcement for emergency landing, with the rain and thunder still continuing, was very, very scary.
It is one moment in my life when I honestly thought I was going to die.