Two USAF Airmen Hit By Lightning While Working On F-35. Air Force officials told Military.com that Two airmen were indirectly struck by lightning while servicing an F-35 Lightning II at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida
The airmen, assigned to the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, were in the process of clearing the flight line when “a nearby indirect lightning strike occurred at approximately 8:20 p.m.,” said Maj. Ashley Conner, 53rd Wing spokeswoman.
One of the airmen “was closing an F-35 canopy, and the other airman was winding up a grounding wire” while clearing the flight line ahead of an oncoming storm, 53rd Wing spokeswoman Maj. Ashley Conner told Military.com.
“Flight line clearing procedures are conducted when lightning is observed or lighting warnings are issued.”
The airmen were clearing the area in an attempt to get ahead of lightning, she explained.
Luckily, both of the airmen were uninjured in the incident. They were taken to the Eglin emergency room for observation, then released without injuries, Conner said.
There was no damage to aircraft or equipment, she added.
The Air Force isn’t the only branch increasingly concerned about lightning-on-Lightning threats: In early August, the Marine Corps put out a solicitation for portable lightning rods to draw lightning strikes away from F-35B aircraft parked at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan.
“Since the F-35 as a composite type aircraft does not provide inherent passive lightning protection, the lightning rods being requested are needed for deploying aircraft to any expeditionary airfield in support of combat operations or training exercises that do not support all lightning protection requirements for the F-35B,” the Marine Corps says in its justification for the purchase.