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No. 81: May-Jun 1992

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Rayed Ball Lightning Hits Plane

The following material is "reprinted" from CompuServe's Aviation Special Interest Group (AVSIG), with the permission of J. Baum. (Cr. E. Kimbrough) For the uninitiated, we are dealing with a computer bulletin board here!

Subject: #235852-Ball Lightning
From: Jeff Baum (PHX) 73740.1302@compuserve.com
To: Emory Kimbrough [TCL] 72777.1553@compuserve.com(X)

"On 8 January 1992 we were in MSP [Minneapolis/St. Paul] ready for pushback at sunrise. Weather was sleet squalls, temperature of +2 degrees C (35 degrees F), ceiling of indefinite 100 obscured, visibility of about 1 and mile variable. We deiced and taxied for the active 11L, airborne in 8 minutes after deicing had ended. The First Officer was flying that leg. Climbing through about 900 feet ABL, this incandescent sphere approximately 10 cm (6 inches) in diameter surrounded by a, what I called, plasma cloud of bluish white approx 1 to 1 and meter (3 to 4 feet) in diameter with bright white 'rays' similar to a fireworks explosion formed just forward and to the left of the radome. We contacted this within second on our left side, just aft of the attach seam of the radome (namely about in line with my left foot). With this contact there was a sharp bang. The cabin crew reported the loud bang but didn't see any haze or light inside the cabin. One did report seeing a bright light on the left side of the aircraft's exterior."

Reference. Rayed ball lightning is fairly common. We have cataloged it in GLB3 in our catalog: Lightning, Auroras. To order, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #81, MAY-JUN 1992. 1992-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987