Icelandair Flight 671 took off from Iceland en route to Denver in severe weather conditions Tuesday evening. It was struck by lightning shortly after.
"I have never been on a plane that’s been struck by lightning before, so I was really startled," passenger Amanda Boldenow told NBC affiliate KOAA TV.
The pilots were aware of the strike but continued their path across the Atlantic for over seven hours, without realizing that the lightning had left a hole in the plane’s nose, an area where important weather radar is located.
— The Weather Network (@weathernetwork) April 9, 2015
The plane landed safely, but experts say the pilots should’ve turned around.
"And because this fiberglass is not a good conductor of electricity, the concentrated energy blew a hole," said aviation expert Greg Feith.
"They should’ve turned around. It’s a prudent thing to turn around because you don’t know what the damage is. It could’ve pressurized this whole area and actually caused it to fail structurally, so the whole front end of this could’ve come off."
It is estimated that, on average, each airplane in the US commercial fleet is struck lightly by lightning more than once each year, according to Scientific American magazine.