Illustration for article titled Planes Get Struck By Lightning Once a Year on Average

There’s a moment in the Truman Show, when Jim Carrey tries to travel to Fiji (and escape his creep-o TV show island) and this poster pops up at a travel agency. It’s funny because lightning strikes are such rare occurrences it couldn’t happen that often. Surely, not often enough to necessitate a poster.


Lightning striking an airplane happens at an alarming frequency. Quartz reports that on average, planes get struck by lightning once a year. Luckily, the results aren’t nearly as disastrous as the poster implies. In fact, you’d have to go back to 1967 to find the last plane crash caused by a lightning.


That’s because airplanes have lightning protection engineers who make sure that equipment and fuel systems are protected from the 30,000 amperes released by the bolt. A plane can withstand much, much more than that. Airliners are so good at taking a hit that passengers may not even notice when a plane’s been struck at all.

According to ABC News, if you get on a flight today, there is a 1 in 1250 chance your plane will get hit—pretty good odds but still 560 times more likely than if you were just standing on ground. Obviously when you’re flying, a plane (made of metal) traveling through a soup of storm clouds and charged particles is an easy target. Yeah, you’re going to get hit. But in modern air travel, it ain’t no big thing.



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