I recently saw a video from Valk Aviation (actual scene) of a KLM B777-300 struck by lightning on departure. It happened a few days ago.

enter image description here

I know this looks more frightening than it really is and the aircraft usually isn't harmed. There are numerous posts here covering this.

But I wonder what a passenger would notice when the aircraft gets hit? Is there some kind of BANG or something? Do the lights flicker, for example?

Terrys answer implies you cannot tell for sure so I guess you won't notice at all. Is that true?

  • $\begingroup$ "Is there some kind of BANG", yes thunder is the sound of air suddenly heated (and destroyed) by lightning. So it is maximum when the lightning is close to you. But close doesn't mean touching the aircraft, you can't tell the difference. However there is no need for touching the aircraft to have effects... so... it doesn't really matters. Sometimes the plasma created ("ball lightning") can travel in the cabin. This is a rare and strange event, but something you would remember ;-) $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Nov 19, 2017 at 16:52

2 Answers 2


In my experience: Yes, the passengers notice, at least for some lightning strikes.

I was flying from San Francisco to Chicago, this was sometime in the 90s. There was a big snowstorm coming in to Chicago, and all you could see out the windows was snow illuminated by the landing lights. There was the usual murmur of conversations going on in the cabin, and all of a sudden there was an almighty BANG and the cabin went completely silent - everybody had stopped talking and was probably holding their breath. Several seconds later (seemed like a long time) the captain came on the PA and said

Nothing to worry about folks, we were just hit by lightning. We will be on the ground in Chicago shortly.

I am 100% certain that every single passenger on that flight "noticed".


Yes, lightning is extremely loud, and it makes a snap like a gun shot. The sound is so loud, it can damage a person's hearing. Also, if the window shade is open there will be a bright flash.


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