Lightning strike on Su-20 aircraft in 1988.

Kraków 2019-09-19

Lightning strike on Su-20 aircraft in 1988.

Major pilot Krzysztof Krzysztoforski

Lightning strike in the Su-20 plane piloted by Major Krzysztof Krzysztoforski. 1988. On this day, the Su-20 aircraft crews carried out combat-combat flights for attacks on targets on the training ground. The weather was not good; lower cloud base 300 m, visibility 3,000 m, wind 2 m / s from the north-west. Due to the weather, flights were not made in groups, but individually. Started in temporary derogations. Su-20 planes were attacked by fighter planes during their return to the airport. Major pilot Krzysztof Kszysztoforski, after passing the "starting point of the route" flew above the clouds. The weather was stable until the last turning point. At the moment of entering the course over the target the clouds were higher, but they were storm clouds. The pilot missed the first dark cloud. However, the cloudiness increased. The layer of clouds was 400 m - 4,000 m. To complete the task, one had to break through the "calm" clouds. Suddenly the pilot blinded a huge glow and found himself in a fiery sphere. He heard a bang, jerked the plane and silence came. The pilot estimated that there was an electric discharge - the plane was hit by lightning.

On the plane, lights flashed on the dashboard, and a second later there was a sudden deceleration of speed. As it turned out later, it was caused by the opening of the braking parachute. The engine tachometer tip was approaching zero. The pilot reflexively pushed the gas lever forward. No effect and he realized that the engine had gone out. Everything indicated the necessity of catapulting. The pilot decided to restart the engine. Burning lights on the dashboard showed the existence of power. The pilot os made his decision to the flight manager. The pilot introduced a plane for descent. He pressed the start button. The green light came on. The pilot heard a soft noise and then a whistle. The engine turbine was running. The pilot felt relief. The minimum engine revs have been established, which have not yet ensured horizontal flight. The pilot moved the gas lever forward. The obedient turbine went into rotation. The altimeter indicated just 1 600 m when the plane started to climb. The pilot reported the interruption of the task and return to the base at an altitude of 5,000 m to be above the clouds.

Before landing, the pilot moved the chassis. He heard the locks crash, but the control lights did not light up. He was also uncertain whether all the flaps were on the plane. He flew low over the flight control tower. They checked. Everything you need has gone out. A rope from the parachute towed by the machine was also noticed. This explained earlier vibrations. The landing was successful. Examination of the machine has shown numerous burns on protruding antennas and the vertical stabilizer from which the position light has evaporated. There were streaks and patches of smoke and fire. The electrical system had numerous short circuits and many cables melted. There were those that evaporated, leaving only teflon covers. After the chassis was released, the position lights were lit instead of the lights in the cab. The control lamps of the devices not turned on are also on. The black box did not work. After connecting the aircraft to the source of the airport current, a smell was felt and smoke appeared in the back. You can guess what would happen if the flight lasted longer.

Pilot Su-20 major Krzysztof Krzysztoforski. 1988. Photo LAC
Pilot Su-20 major Krzysztof Krzysztoforski. 1988. Photo LAC

Burned electronic components of the Su-20 aircraft. 1988. Photo LAC
Burned electronic components of the Su-20 aircraft. 1988. Photo LAC

Written by Karol Placha Hetman