I honestly don't think so. Although it could probably have been done with a non-magntic material as hard as steel, Titanium maybe. It would be quite expensive! I use titanium tools around our MRI magnets and most pieces cost around $300.00 each just for box wrenches. You think the government pays a lot for a hammer? Check out this web site:
At an office where I worked, lightning struck a tree very near to where I park. A few days later I noticed a very awful smell near the area. This particular location often is tested for groundwater contamination from benzine. Anyway looking around on the ground, I found a fulgarite in the sandy soil. One of those weird things.
You should probably grateful you were flying in an old-design 747 that has mostly aluminum and metallic construction, with some composites, but not much compared to most Airbus designs or the B-787 Dreamliner... which make increased use of non-metallic composites.
I've seen ugly holes burned trough the fiberglass reinforced fairings of the tail feathers of several airliners. I specially remember one which entered in that area, to leave though the rear tip of the right horizontal stabilizer. On that flight I was riding inside the Flight Deck, and just after the hit, one Stewardess came into the Flight Deck asking confirmation that we were struck by lightning, as she started to feel the odd "taste" of the amalgams in their teeth... She was somewhat familiar with these events and learned to recognize them! After landing at the next scheduled stop at Minatitlan, I was invited to "walk the plane" (a visual inspection around the airplane). Surely enough, there was an oval hole burned in the base of the fairing where the fairing meets the vertical stabilizer, about two and a half inches by two inches, and the outermost static dissipator on the right stabilizer was damaged, only the stem remained attached to the elevator. What the lightning rod did, was to enter the underlying metal structure and exit at the elevator tip. The old aircraft mechanic that helped us carry the inspection, said such impacts were not too uncommon, but that the size of the burned hole was on the larger size.
There is an (much used and abused) old saying: "good ol' KC-135's never die, they just get new bigger and better engines and continue flying, just don't tell em how old they are"
And that is probably true of many old Boeings (the 707 and 727) specially. New much more powerful, higher By-pass engines give the 707 design new life and awesome performance compared to the original 60's design. Could the 727 by fitted with those newer engines (not easy given number 2 engine location), it would still be an outstanding model.
Not only Submarines.. but more importantly: WW-II Minesweepers! Those had large degaussing coils BUILT into their hulls. Later designs (Vietnam era) were made with some non metal sections to avoid magnetization. It is not generally known that mines have sunk more ships than other weapons along history. Magnetic ones were perfectioned quite a bit during WW-II. Another thing that can be magnetized in ships, are the twin iron balls installed on an adjustable slide bar just under the magnetic compass, used to correct the compass reading by adjusting the distance of each ball to the compass, which modifies the magnetic field around the compass (in order to compensate for any asymmetry in the ship construction).
Yikes!! I viewed those sites on FULGURITES, and the natural result of lightning strike is a far-cry from what was depicted in the Movie! Real Fulgurites look like crusty, porous rock. The movie depicted beautiful shimmering curves of crystal, like a swan's neck. Kind of as I suspected; Hollywood dresses up reality.
However the UF site had some awesome images of actual lightning strikes. Definitely worth the click. Thanks!
The Airforce KC-135 is a version of a Boeing 707 passenger plane. Neither are being manufactured any longer. The KC abreviation is the Airforce initals for an in-air-refueling plane. It mostly carrys cargo but the ones I worked on also had hammocks strapped to the walls for hitchikers. I would imagine it's still in service at a very greatful general. We had originally thought it might be removed from service till a fix had been found.
You were on an international flight, which means all systems must work 100% including the duplicate backup systems or you land and have them repaired immediately. I could imagine a wing strike might have affected the fuel guage readings from that wing, engines readings or even the compass.
Hopefully that was just a precaution, to declare a lightning strike and get pushed to the front of the line for the landing. In any case you are safe and sound and I can relate to that!
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