|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||0601 To 1200|
|Locale Reference||atc facility : sbn|
|Altitude||msl bound lower : 19000|
msl bound upper : 19000
|Controlling Facilities||artcc : zob|
|Operator||general aviation : personal|
|Make Model Name||Small Transport, Low Wing, 2 Recip Eng|
|Flight Phase||cruise other|
|Route In Use||enroute : on vectors|
|Function||flight crew : single pilot|
|Qualification||pilot : commercial|
pilot : instrument
|Anomaly||inflight encounter : weather|
other anomaly other
|Independent Detector||other flight crewa|
|Resolutory Action||none taken : anomaly accepted|
none taken : unable
none taken : detected after the fact
|Air Traffic Incident||other|
The flight began uneventfully with essentially VFR conditions departing the chicago area, but the WX forecaster (universal weather) had pointed out that there were some thunderstorms southwest of south bend that I probably would be able to see once I was at altitude. But he did not believe that there would be any in the south bend area and that at my requested altitudes, I'd probably be on top of most everything, but there might be some layers in indiana and western ohio. After that, it would be clear sailing on top all the way to the destination. We step-climbed until we reached 19000' somewhere approximately abeam of south bend VOR. Upon leveling off, we found we were about to enter IMC conditions. Prior to entering, neither the radar nor the stormscope showed any evidence of precipitation or lightning, except the stormscope was showing some lightning off to the southwest and we could see those thunderstorms easily. They were probably 50/100 mi away. I asked chicago center if they were showing any cells or WX activity in my area or ahead, and they replied there was nothing in the area they could see nor on the jet arwy as far as their radar could penetrate. But to the eye, although it didn't appear that it was thunderstorm area, it was clearly solid IMC. Upon entering the IMC conditions I began to notice very light precipitation and shortly thereafter the airplane picked up rime ice on the wings, but just a light coating. I was getting concerned about the ice formation and giving consideration to requesting a lower altitude. I noticed that there was ice beginning to form on the windscreen. Shortly thereafter, there was a loud crack and a vertical shaft of lightning appeared immediately in front of the nose. The stormscope was blank but at that instant, it lit up like an xmas tree, but nothing showed on the radar. All the flags on the radios came down, the LORAN went blank, but there was no other indication of any difficulty. Immediately asked cle center if they had any indication of a thunderstorm cell and reported I'd seen lightning. The controller said he thought there was some stuff off the right wing and perhaps a turn to the left of 10/15 degrees would be appropriate, which I did. Shortly thereafter I said I was turning left and he said, no the WX is off your left wing, you should make a turn to the right. I turned back to the right about 15/20 degrees. There was no further lightning or no turbulence. I was again concerned about the formation of ice which was increasing and the windshield was no practically frozen over. I activated the wing deicing boots, which broke the ice clear, and reported to center that I was picking up ice and that I may want to request a lower altitude. They said there would be no problem getting a lower altitude, just let them know. However, about that time, I broke into the clear and could see that I would be in the clear for a while. There were some tops above me, but that I might be able to be between layers or by deviation stay away from the cumulus. There was quite a bit of cumulus formation. At trenton and because of a pressing schedule, I left for the office west/O carefully inspecting the airplane. 2 days later, I was to fly to lancaster, PA. I went out to the airport and began my usual, careful preflight activities. I noticed a problem at the very nose of the airplane--the tip of the radome. It was frayed and strips of fiberglass were peeled back from the nose and there was a small hole. I then realized that the lightning had struck the airplane. I carefully went over the airplane and could not find any other evidence of lightning activity except a long burn stain about 2-2 1/2' long coming out of the back of the radome and along the fuselage on the right side of the airplane. I completed the preflight and flew the airplane in that condition to lancaster. When I pulled it into the maintenance shop, the mechanics noticed the nose and I explained to them about the lightning strike near south bend. They went over it very carefully and they found a small hole where the strike apparently exited at the very tip of the left hand horizontal stabilizer. They also examined the burn stain and came to the conclusion there were probably at least 2 strikes--one exited the burn stain on the front of the fuselage and the other at the tip of the elevator. We then removed the radome and found 3 small indentations on the antenna probe. This indicated that probably there were 3 strikes, though we were never sure about the exit for the third one. At trenton the morning of the strike, I called the meteorologist at universal weather at white plains and told him of the situation. He was very much surprised and asked for the approximately position and time of the strike, which I gave him. He felt that at the particular time of that strike, there was a low trough forming in that area and that very likely I had simply blundered into the beginning formation of a thunderstorm cell and it was in its very early stages. He said that would explain the ice and the lightning. Later on that day, there was some severe WX in that area.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: GA SMT ENCOUNTERS LIGHTNING STRIKE.
Narrative: THE FLT BEGAN UNEVENTFULLY WITH ESSENTIALLY VFR CONDITIONS DEPARTING THE CHICAGO AREA, BUT THE WX FORECASTER (UNIVERSAL WEATHER) HAD POINTED OUT THAT THERE WERE SOME TSTMS SW OF SOUTH BEND THAT I PROBABLY WOULD BE ABLE TO SEE ONCE I WAS AT ALT. BUT HE DID NOT BELIEVE THAT THERE WOULD BE ANY IN THE SOUTH BEND AREA AND THAT AT MY REQUESTED ALTS, I'D PROBABLY BE ON TOP OF MOST EVERYTHING, BUT THERE MIGHT BE SOME LAYERS IN INDIANA AND WESTERN OHIO. AFTER THAT, IT WOULD BE CLEAR SAILING ON TOP ALL THE WAY TO THE DEST. WE STEP-CLIMBED UNTIL WE REACHED 19000' SOMEWHERE APPROX ABEAM OF SOUTH BEND VOR. UPON LEVELING OFF, WE FOUND WE WERE ABOUT TO ENTER IMC CONDITIONS. PRIOR TO ENTERING, NEITHER THE RADAR NOR THE STORMSCOPE SHOWED ANY EVIDENCE OF PRECIPITATION OR LIGHTNING, EXCEPT THE STORMSCOPE WAS SHOWING SOME LIGHTNING OFF TO THE SW AND WE COULD SEE THOSE TSTMS EASILY. THEY WERE PROBABLY 50/100 MI AWAY. I ASKED CHICAGO CENTER IF THEY WERE SHOWING ANY CELLS OR WX ACTIVITY IN MY AREA OR AHEAD, AND THEY REPLIED THERE WAS NOTHING IN THE AREA THEY COULD SEE NOR ON THE JET ARWY AS FAR AS THEIR RADAR COULD PENETRATE. BUT TO THE EYE, ALTHOUGH IT DIDN'T APPEAR THAT IT WAS TSTM AREA, IT WAS CLEARLY SOLID IMC. UPON ENTERING THE IMC CONDITIONS I BEGAN TO NOTICE VERY LIGHT PRECIPITATION AND SHORTLY THEREAFTER THE AIRPLANE PICKED UP RIME ICE ON THE WINGS, BUT JUST A LIGHT COATING. I WAS GETTING CONCERNED ABOUT THE ICE FORMATION AND GIVING CONSIDERATION TO REQUESTING A LOWER ALT. I NOTICED THAT THERE WAS ICE BEGINNING TO FORM ON THE WINDSCREEN. SHORTLY THEREAFTER, THERE WAS A LOUD CRACK AND A VERTICAL SHAFT OF LIGHTNING APPEARED IMMEDIATELY IN FRONT OF THE NOSE. THE STORMSCOPE WAS BLANK BUT AT THAT INSTANT, IT LIT UP LIKE AN XMAS TREE, BUT NOTHING SHOWED ON THE RADAR. ALL THE FLAGS ON THE RADIOS CAME DOWN, THE LORAN WENT BLANK, BUT THERE WAS NO OTHER INDICATION OF ANY DIFFICULTY. IMMEDIATELY ASKED CLE CENTER IF THEY HAD ANY INDICATION OF A TSTM CELL AND RPTED I'D SEEN LIGHTNING. THE CTLR SAID HE THOUGHT THERE WAS SOME STUFF OFF THE RIGHT WING AND PERHAPS A TURN TO THE LEFT OF 10/15 DEGS WOULD BE APPROPRIATE, WHICH I DID. SHORTLY THEREAFTER I SAID I WAS TURNING LEFT AND HE SAID, NO THE WX IS OFF YOUR LEFT WING, YOU SHOULD MAKE A TURN TO THE RIGHT. I TURNED BACK TO THE RIGHT ABOUT 15/20 DEGS. THERE WAS NO FURTHER LIGHTNING OR NO TURB. I WAS AGAIN CONCERNED ABOUT THE FORMATION OF ICE WHICH WAS INCREASING AND THE WINDSHIELD WAS NO PRACTICALLY FROZEN OVER. I ACTIVATED THE WING DEICING BOOTS, WHICH BROKE THE ICE CLEAR, AND RPTED TO CENTER THAT I WAS PICKING UP ICE AND THAT I MAY WANT TO REQUEST A LOWER ALT. THEY SAID THERE WOULD BE NO PROB GETTING A LOWER ALT, JUST LET THEM KNOW. HOWEVER, ABOUT THAT TIME, I BROKE INTO THE CLEAR AND COULD SEE THAT I WOULD BE IN THE CLEAR FOR A WHILE. THERE WERE SOME TOPS ABOVE ME, BUT THAT I MIGHT BE ABLE TO BE BTWN LAYERS OR BY DEVIATION STAY AWAY FROM THE CUMULUS. THERE WAS QUITE A BIT OF CUMULUS FORMATION. AT TRENTON AND BECAUSE OF A PRESSING SCHEDULE, I LEFT FOR THE OFFICE W/O CAREFULLY INSPECTING THE AIRPLANE. 2 DAYS LATER, I WAS TO FLY TO LANCASTER, PA. I WENT OUT TO THE ARPT AND BEGAN MY USUAL, CAREFUL PREFLT ACTIVITIES. I NOTICED A PROB AT THE VERY NOSE OF THE AIRPLANE--THE TIP OF THE RADOME. IT WAS FRAYED AND STRIPS OF FIBERGLASS WERE PEELED BACK FROM THE NOSE AND THERE WAS A SMALL HOLE. I THEN REALIZED THAT THE LIGHTNING HAD STRUCK THE AIRPLANE. I CAREFULLY WENT OVER THE AIRPLANE AND COULD NOT FIND ANY OTHER EVIDENCE OF LIGHTNING ACTIVITY EXCEPT A LONG BURN STAIN ABOUT 2-2 1/2' LONG COMING OUT OF THE BACK OF THE RADOME AND ALONG THE FUSELAGE ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE AIRPLANE. I COMPLETED THE PREFLT AND FLEW THE AIRPLANE IN THAT CONDITION TO LANCASTER. WHEN I PULLED IT INTO THE MAINT SHOP, THE MECHS NOTICED THE NOSE AND I EXPLAINED TO THEM ABOUT THE LIGHTNING STRIKE NEAR SOUTH BEND. THEY WENT OVER IT VERY CAREFULLY AND THEY FOUND A SMALL HOLE WHERE THE STRIKE APPARENTLY EXITED AT THE VERY TIP OF THE LEFT HAND HORIZ STAB. THEY ALSO EXAMINED THE BURN STAIN AND CAME TO THE CONCLUSION THERE WERE PROBABLY AT LEAST 2 STRIKES--ONE EXITED THE BURN STAIN ON THE FRONT OF THE FUSELAGE AND THE OTHER AT THE TIP OF THE ELEVATOR. WE THEN REMOVED THE RADOME AND FOUND 3 SMALL INDENTATIONS ON THE ANTENNA PROBE. THIS INDICATED THAT PROBABLY THERE WERE 3 STRIKES, THOUGH WE WERE NEVER SURE ABOUT THE EXIT FOR THE THIRD ONE. AT TRENTON THE MORNING OF THE STRIKE, I CALLED THE METEOROLOGIST AT UNIVERSAL WEATHER AT WHITE PLAINS AND TOLD HIM OF THE SITUATION. HE WAS VERY MUCH SURPRISED AND ASKED FOR THE APPROX POS AND TIME OF THE STRIKE, WHICH I GAVE HIM. HE FELT THAT AT THE PARTICULAR TIME OF THAT STRIKE, THERE WAS A LOW TROUGH FORMING IN THAT AREA AND THAT VERY LIKELY I HAD SIMPLY BLUNDERED INTO THE BEGINNING FORMATION OF A TSTM CELL AND IT WAS IN ITS VERY EARLY STAGES. HE SAID THAT WOULD EXPLAIN THE ICE AND THE LIGHTNING. LATER ON THAT DAY, THERE WAS SOME SEVERE WX IN THAT AREA.
Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site as of August 2007 and automatically converted to unabbreviated mixed upper/lowercase text. This report is for informational purposes with no guarantee of accuracy. See NASA's ASRS site for official report.