Planes hit by lightning amid thunderstorm in London


Passengers on flights into London were left shocked after their planes were hit by lightning strikes during a thunderstorm.

At least three planes are thought to have been struck as lightning forked through the skies over the capital on Wednesday evening.

Holidaymakers returning from Iceland on an Icelandair flight described a sound like an "explosion" as their Boeing 757 plane was struck, along with a jolting feeling and an extremely bright light.

Catherine Mayer, president and co-founder of the Women's Equality Party, said the incident happened too fast to be frightening.

Ms Mayer, who had been to Iceland researching gender equality and was returning home for next week's elections, described flying into a huge wall of cloud as the plane got ready to land at Heathrow airport at 8.10pm.

She told the Press Association: "As we flew into it there was this extraordinarily loud noise like an explosion and a lot of light. The moment of the strike there was a jolt, and it was very loud and very bright.

"There was no ambiguity about what had happened, it was obviously a lightning strike. I thought, 'my God, we have just been hit by lightning, I wonder if that is going to do anything to the plane'.

"I thought, 'I can't die, I've got to vote' - one of those idiotic things that you think.

"I wasn't panicking or anything, I was just regarding it all with that detached interest you get when something happens that fast."

After they landed, the captain explained what had happened to the tense passengers.

Ms Mayer said: "The captain said, 'you may have noticed a lightning strike', and everybody just laughed because the idea that anybody could not have noticed it was so ridiculous.

"It was shocking but not frightening because it was way too fast to have one's whole life flash before one's eyes or anything like that."

Charity worker Liz Dobson was reportedly aboard the same flight, telling the Evening Standard the lightning strike hit the aircraft's wing.

She said: "It came out of the blue. There was a really loud bang and white flash - not really what you want on a plane."

A British Airways (BA) pilot also guided a flight from Prague safely into Heathrow after it was hit while descending, while a Finnair flight from Helsinki to Heathrow was also reportedly struck.

BA said: "The flight landed safely and will undergo inspection before it returns to service. The safety of our customers and crew is always our top priority.

"Lightning strikes are fairly common and aircraft are designed to cope with them."

An Icelandair spokesman confirmed the lightning strike, saying the plane was returned to service after an inspection found it was not damaged.