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Pilot Captures Jaw-Dropping Spectacle of St. Elmo’s Fire Phenomenon


Luis Andress / SWNS

A pilot has captured the jaw-dropping spectacle of St. Elmo’s Fire from his cockpit.

Airbus captain Luis Andress was flying from Miami to Denver last month when he encountered the scene.

It was part of the overall effects of Hurricane Ian when it hit the gulf coast of Florida this year.

St. Elmo’s Fire occurs when the atmosphere becomes charged and an electrical discharge of plasma is created between an object and the air around it.

This can happen to aircraft flying through heavily charged skies.

Luis Andress / SWNS

“I live in Florida, and was doing the MIA-DEN on the same day the Hurricane Ian was passing by,” said Andress.

“It was a spectacle to see the phenomenon of St. Elmo’s Fire. It was such a show.”

“I was impressed because it was my first time that I saw them with that intensity.”

St. Elmo’s fire is named after St. Erasmus of Formia, also known as St. Elmo, the patron saint of sailors.

This 1866 illustration was the best astonished sailors could come up with – note the streamers off the mast and jibs.

The phenomenon, which can warn of an imminent lightning strike, was regarded by sailors with awe and sometimes considered to be a good omen.

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Another reason it’s associated with sailors is that the mast of their ships were easy ground zero for the corona discharge that creates the amazing violet light. In the case of Andress, it was probably created off the leading edge of his Airbus, another place it’s been commonly recorded.

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