St Elmos Fire

Yesterday the weather was pretty rough flying into Birmingham and Manchester, the winds were quite high in the sky and there were a lot of thundestorms around.

There was a lot of strange cloud cover around Northern England and Scotland which together with the high winds was causing quite a lot of turbulence.  I tried climbing and descending to get out of the rough air so that the passengers wouldn’t be getting battered the whole time.  It was during out descent from 24,000ft down to 20,000ft that I came across the phenomenon St Elmos Fire.

Plasma Static Electricity Glass Ball

I had heard about it many times, but it was not what I expected it to look like at all.  I thought St Elmos Fire looked more like snow hitting the windscreen; lots of white specs coming really quickly like when space ships go into hyperdrive on star wars, but instead it looked like we were inside one of those giant static balls you always see at the museums.  I won’t go into the full science of it, but it is usually caused by a lot of static from a thunderstorm with a sharp conducting object passing through it, in this case, a plane.  Here is a wiki on it, but it’s not very informative.

I wanted to whiz my phone out to take a video but the turbulence was too much for me to hold it steady (plus I had to keep my hands on the controls anyway).  The captain I was flying with had never seen it before, I doubt I will see it again in the Dash 8 but maybe on the Airbus.  Here is a borrowed video from youtube so you can see what it looked like


~ by globalste on October 3, 2012.

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