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Helicopter Blades Generate Lightning Bolts

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posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 08:06 PM

A collection of sublime images from embedded journalist Michael Yon of what happens when helicopters fly through dust storms. Lightning bolts arcing around the blades are thought to be created by static electricity arising from friction between two dissimilar materials - in this case the metal blades and the sand. Yon coined the term "Kopp-Etchells Effect", named for two soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

See more images here

They just look like sparks to me, but i am sure its something extraordinary to see in person.

I wonder what the voltage on those arc's amounts to...

posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 08:09 PM
looks like something that would be to do with the sand and the fast rotation of the blades causing it to spark when it strikes the blades if thats possible

posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 08:10 PM
This is common.
Even in a non dusty enviroment these effects can be seen through night vision sometimes.

During airmoile and and slingload operations, the team will use a grounded metal wand to discharge the voltage before slapping the ring into the lift hook. This prevents the hook up man from getting a zap.

[edit on 24-11-2009 by badgerprints]

posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 08:37 PM
Looks like the Twenty-first Century's version of St. Elmo's fire. Those are some intriguing photos, whatever it is...

posted on Nov, 24 2009 @ 01:01 AM
The roter blades build up static electricity while cutting through the air.
This is the second line.

posted on Nov, 24 2009 @ 01:05 AM
Of course they generate enormous amounts of static electricity. People don't duck around helicopters because their heads are in danger off being loped off by the blades- they just don't want to get shocked.

posted on Nov, 24 2009 @ 07:10 AM
well to me looks like a sand storm and the propellers and sparking off the sand in the air.

posted on Nov, 24 2009 @ 11:23 AM
reply to post by stevegmu

Sarcastic I presume...

Anyway, people duck around helicopters so they don't get decapitated.

I was an SH-60B Seahawk helicopter crewman for 15 years... with a wind-gust, the blades CAN droop!! They can FLEX 2-3 FEET rather quickly and without warning to anyone on the ground. On the SH-60 family the MOST dangerous area is the 10 to 2 o'clock position since the rotor-head is built with a 2.5 degree forward tilt. The blades pass the ground about 8 feet above the ground at the 12 o-clock, so with a 4 foot flex... that blade is SUDDENLY close to being a 5 foot WEED WACKER !!

Once while hot-refueling (rotors spinning) our bird on the ship, I WATCHED a deck-crewman exit the rotor-arc at the 1 o'clock position and get HIT. He was VERY lucky as it was a glancing blow... it still threw him 20 ft and cracked his cranial (helmet), but he lived and was working the next day.

ALWAYS enter the rotor arc at the 3 or 9... and have your safety glasses or goggles ON.
US Naval Aircrewman / Limited Duty Officer 1985-1999

[edit on 24/11/2009 by C0bzz]

posted on Nov, 24 2009 @ 11:37 AM
This doesn't look like anything close to an electric discharge. Since the blade is a conductor, the potential across its surface must be the same, so the discharge would happen in isolated locations -- and it's gotta be a sort of a corona discharge, which is smooth -- I've seen plenty of that and was once covered myself in St.Elmo's fire during a high altitude ascent.

Now, the glow in the picture is quite granular. It's almost like particles are scattered around.

I interpret that as sparking of sand particles on impact with the blade material.
I'm not saying static electricity is absent. There is probably plenty of it, too.

posted on Nov, 24 2009 @ 12:30 PM
Here you go...

2nd line... Hopefully, this will satisfy some people curiosity.


A U.S. Army soldier reaches up to touch a hovering CH-47 Chinook helicopter with a grounding rod as he and his fellow soldiers prepare to sling load a container from Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, on March 13, 2001. The grounding rod is used to dissipate the build up of static electricity on the helicopter so the soldiers who attach the loading slings won't be shocked.

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