Yes, in December 2003.
I remember it very well. I was at work. During my time with the Norwegian air force, I worked at the Sea King rescue squadron in Bodø, northern Norway.
It was December 4th 2003, around 8:30 PM
. Still dark outside, with some snow, and heavy winds around 60 kts, gusting 72 kts.
While I was sitting behind the operation desk, the phone rang. (My job was to receive and distribute information to the crew, so I would receive any emergency calls.) I answered the phone, and it turned out to be something non-important. While I was on the phone though, the direct line to Bodø twr started ringing. One of the pilots who happened to be there picked up the phone. We hung up at the same time, and I noticed he reached for the "Scramble" button to sound the alarm. "Listen" he said "this is no exercise".
He informed the rest of the crew the following:
A Kato Air Dornier 228 carrying 4 people, heading towards Bodø, had been struck by lightening, and lost the elevator rudders. They were maneuvering only with the help of the trim. Mayday had been called out.
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Photo © Jan Harald Olsen
The crew rushed to the helicopter, and prepared to depart in case the plane didn't make it to the airport.
I walked over to the window, and not long after the planes approach lights could be seen. It approached rwy25. I could tell something was very wrong with the plane, as it was bouncing up and down in large motions. Like a rollercoaster. Climbing and descending constantly.
As the time came to land, the pilots must have thought it was no good, and pulled up into a steep climb. I've never seen a civil plane climb that steeply. I was sure he would stall out in the strong winds and fall to the ground any time. But the plane stayed in the air, and managed to go around for another landing attempt.
Once again, I could see the lights bounce up and down in the darkness, as the plane approached the rwy. Like all planes landing on rwy25, it disappeared behind the corner of the terminal building for a short period. But unlike the other planes, it didn't reappear and roll out on the rwy. "He's down..." said another employee at the squadron in the room. Ambulances and emergency vehicles rushed to the scene. Over the radio I heard that all had survived, with only moderate injuries.
Quite an experience to have witnessed.
I was amazed that the pilots had managed to get the plane to a "safe" landing after first getting hit by lightening, then been flying temporarily blind for 5 minutes following the flash, and then keeping the plane in the air for nearly 30 minutes using the trim.
Well done to the crew. Though the plane never flew again.
Photos by Tom Melby at "Avisa Nordland".
"If guns don't kill people, people kill people - does that mean toasters don't toast toast, toast toast toast?"