Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

'Big boom and a jolt': B.C. family recounts flight where lightning strikes plane

"Flying home in a tiny prop plane when it was hit by lightning is not an experience I care to repeat," says Jessica McConnell.

A B.C. family was on a flight to Vancouver Island on Wednesday when their plane was struck by lightning.

Jessica McConnell and her 15-year-old son were headed home to Quadra Island from visiting Calgary on spring break. They stopped at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) for a layover and were supposed to fly out around 9:45 a.m. to Comox on flight AC8323.

“It just started to sprinkle as we were getting on the plane,” says McConnell. 

As the plane ascended into the sky, there was a loud sound and a flash of light.

“There was a big boom and a jolt,” she says. “It was very disorienting. I was trying to figure out what had just happened. At first, I thought maybe something had happened with the prop or something."

Shortly after, the pilot came over the speaker system to alert passengers they had indeed been struck by lightning. 

A spokesperson with Air Canada tells Glacier Media the express flight operated by Jazz Aviation did encounter lightning contact during departure. 

"The crew elected to return to YVR,” says the spokesperson. "It is important to note that aircraft are built to sustain lightning contact."

McConnell explains how this meant they had to fly back through the storm. 

“There was a lot of turbulence and still lots of flashes of lightning and stuff,” she says. "So that was pretty scary.”

The plane landed safely back at Vancouver International Airport. Air Canada says a full maintenance inspection is undertaken following such an event as part of "robust operating procedures."

People were not able to get off because the lightning storm was still taking place. 

“We had to wait probably 40 minutes, I would say, on the tarmac for that to kind of blow over and for them to be able to come and get us,” says McConnell. 

Her son, meanwhile, was not fazed by the lightning strike. 

“He was reading a book with his AirPods in,” she says. “He was a rock.”

McConnell credits the crew on the flight for keeping everyone calm. After waiting at the airport until roughly midnight, they were able to get on another flight to Comox. 

“I’m just happy to be home safe and sound,” she says. “Flying home in a tiny prop plane when it was hit by lightning is not an experience I care to repeat."