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Posted at 01:18 PM ET, 09/05/2012

Lightning viewed from above the clouds in Virginia from Washington, D.C. bound plane

This video was taken during a United Airlines flight from Orlando, Fl. to Dulles Airport on September 2, 2012 and shows a thunderstorm that was located south of Richmond, Virginia. The audio is from the pilot which was recorded during the video. (Kevin Ambrose)

I’ve only photographed lightning from a jet twice and both times it occurred on a flight from Orlando, Fl. to Dulles Airport. Because a jet moves, bumps, and vibrates in flight, taking a timed exposure photo of lightning while flying is almost impossible. So, to record lightning while in the air, I use the video mode on my DSLR camera.

The image quality is not as good as taking a still photo but it does a fair job and the video (see above) can show the various stages of the lightning flash, or discharge, which is not captured in still photography.

Read below for lightning images...


These are two video frames that were recorded on September 2, 2012 south of Richmond, Virginia from a United Airlines jet. The image on the left shows lightning coming out of the top of a thunderstorm and entering back into the storm’s rain shaft. The image on the right shows the full lightning discharge which overexposed the frame. These two video frames were recorded a fraction of a second apart. A higher resolution image can be viewed here. (Kevin Ambrose)

While flying home early Sunday evening from a vacation in Florida, I noticed a thunderstorm producing lightning to the east, strobing light through my window a few minutes after sunset. I started my camera in the video mode and recorded multiple lightning flashes. One of the lightning flashes was quite bright and spanned a distance from the top of the thunderstorm to the ground.

I have included a few of the video frame segments below (the video itself is above). It was a rare opportunity to observe lightning from above the source.


Lightning glows within a thunderstorm. Much of the storm’s lightning was concealed inside the storm clouds. A higher resolution image can be viewed here. This frame occurred about 30 seconds before the frame below. (Kevin Ambrose)


This is a frame showing a lightning bolt exiting upward from the top of a thunderstorm. A higher resolution image can be viewed here. This frame occurred about three minutes before the frame below. (Kevin Ambrose)


A view of the thunderstorm showing lightning coming out of the top of the storm clouds and entering back into the storm near its base and striking the ground within the rain shaft. A higher resolution image can be viewed here. It was a rare opportunity to observe lightning from above the source. (Kevin Ambrose)

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By  |  01:18 PM ET, 09/05/2012

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