Science: Fire in the Sky

Many an airline passenger has tensed uneasily as lightning streaked the sky and the eerie blue glow of static electricity outlined the wing tips and propellers. Yet airmen have considered static electricity aloft relatively harmless. Now and then, lightning may blow out radio equipment or burn small holes in aircraft skin sections, but there are no recorded cases of major damage. Discharge of static electricity, named St. Elmo's fire by mariners of the Middle Ages, who thought the phenomenon a good omen from their patron saint, is considered no danger at all....

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