Having a 1976 Ford Pinto that was struck by lightning, seemingly nothing happened. Although, after about a month or so (memory does not recall time lapse but it seemed short) the charging system quit working and then the electronic spark module quit working. The radio never seemed to tune in stations very good. Then when I thought I had everything fixed, the engine started knocking due to a cracked piston skirt. Coincidence?
That was a very interesting scenario - which also hits home as to why pilots need to be trained how to fly when losing instrument orientation - those guys knew what to do!
I really appreciated the solution they came up with - an obvious fix because they related it to similar problems with a known solution and out of the box thinking to make it work for their particular situation. I would have liked to seen it implemented!
This is fortunate that the planes are designed with compass redundancy. If there had been only one compass and the plane was flying at night, the pilot could have been flying in the total wrong direction for a long time before seeing the error.
I used to design warning equipment for cranes and the equipment was frequently damaged by lightning strikes. I had a small collection of artifacts and was amazed by the strange paths the charge would follow. I had one unit with a neat 1/8" hole blown through a filter capacitor so that you could see through to the other side. The capacitor still tested good, but the chassis behind the capacitor had a 1/2" hole of melted steel.
Dan, you mention that this could happen to a steel car, and that is may be correct. There is a bit of a difference, since the car is typically a cage, or enclosed structure, while the plate you mention is not.
Cars are said to be a safe place to ride out a lighting storm since they create this Faraday cage effect and becuase the rubber tires insulate the vehicle from the ground. This helps protect the passengers. With all the talk about cars made of composites to save weight, we may loose this safety feature.
A middle school team from Rochester, Mich., has again nabbed the grand prize in the annual international Future City Competition, which drew students from 37 regions of the United States, as well as from England and China.
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