NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)– Dozens of passengers are still shaken up Friday after lightning struck their plane mid-flight on Thursday evening.
The plane had to make an emergency landing at John F. Kennedy Airport, but experts said similar scares are more common than one might think.
Ominous skies were seen just moments before lightning struck the American Airlines flight from Raleigh, North Carolina to LaGuardia Airport.
“There was a giant flash and then what sounded like an explosion,” passenger Rebecca Seger said.
She sat in the second row when she felt that powerful jolt thousands of feet in the air.
“The whole cabin lit up in blue we all looked at each other,” she said.
The pilot made an emergency landing at JFK after radioing in for help, CBS2’s Ilana Gold reported.
“Just got hit by lightning… Don’t send us through there, it’s pretty bad, lets go ahead and divert to JFK,” the pilot can be heard saying.
Fire crews in hazmat suits rushed over as soon as it touched down. The plane only had minor damage on the side and wing.
Passengers said their biggest fear when hearing what happened was the plane going down.
Aviation experts told CBS2 if you’re on a plane that gets struck by lightning, it’s not as dangerous as you might think as the vehicles are built to take a hit.
“This is a part of air craft design, electronic currents can run through an aircraft and not affect it so much,” Phil Derner, of New York City Aviation, told CBS2.
He said it’s not uncommon for planes to get struck by lightning during stormy months and sometimes the pilot doesn’t even realize it. Derner added that the incidents are happening earlier than usual in our region because of the mild winter.
“It’s definitely something that is scary, but we’re in the safest era of aviation safety by far,” he said.
Pilots go through extensive training on dealing with lightning and how to avoid it, although sometimes they are unable to.