The F/A-18 Super Hornet squadron VF-102 Diamondbacks, flying from the USS Ronald Reagan, has posted a montage video of its 2019 Indo-China cruise.

At about 5:15, the video shows a night-time cockpit view of the aircraft flying through a shower of sparks. There is also the view looking backwards. It's like a sci-fi special-effect.

What would cause this phenomenon?

Youtube F-18 source - YouTube

  • $\begingroup$ Illuminated rain drops appear almost horizontal due to the speed ? $\endgroup$
    – Antzi
    Commented Sep 19, 2020 at 11:39
  • 16
    $\begingroup$ That's what it looks like when you light the afterburner and go into hyperspace. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 19, 2020 at 14:24
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Flying thru rain or snow at night with landing lights on totally gives the sci-fi "warp speed" effect looking forward. Dunno about the part looking aft. The segment is playing at many X normal speed. Might just be rain drops in the aircraft's red lights, but that's only a guess. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Commented Sep 19, 2020 at 14:56
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    $\begingroup$ Jorg, Ralph - I think Jpe61 is correct about it being gunfire residue so no the video isn't speeded up. You can see something very similar here popularmechanics.com/flight/a23060/… $\endgroup$
    – Party Ark
    Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 10:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ My God, it's full of stars! $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 21:11

1 Answer 1


The sparks in the video come from the F-18's Vulcan cannon being fired at night.

During daytime you'd only see muzzle flash accompanied by a pretty puff of smoke. Low light conditions bring out the sparks, or rather, residual gunpowder still burning (or glowing) as it exits the barrel.


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