"I saw a flash": Atlanta-bound plane lands in Chattanooga after being hit by lightning

(Image: WTVC)

Emergency responders were in place for a commercial plane landing at Chattanooga Airport Tuesday afternoon after it was struck by lightning.

According to Chattanooga Airport spokesman Albert Waterhouse, the MD 90 plane was headed from Milwaukee to Atlanta when lightning hit.

The plane was diverted to the Chattanooga Airport, and landed safely.

Waterhouse says none of the 164 people on the plane were injured.

"The aircraft will be closely inspected to determine the next steps in getting the passengers to their final destination,” said Waterhouse in a statement.

The FAA released a statement on the incident:

"Delta Air Lines flight 2050, an MD-90, landed safely at Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport at 3:38 p.m. EST after the pilot reported a possible lightning strike and declared an emergency. The flight departed George Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee and was headed to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport when it diverted. Contact the airline for passenger information. The FAA will investigate."

NewsChannel 9's Bliss Zechman spoke with a pilot at the airport who says it's very rare that lightning strikes planes.

Bliss spoke with one of the plane's passengers, who says throughout the experience no one panicked.

Russell Baumgard was a passenger on the flight. Since he was seated near the wing by the window, he says he witnessed the lightning hit the plane's engine.

"I saw a flash and then after a little bit, you could kind of feel the engine go out and slow down. And then they were like, hey we're over Chattanooga and we're going to land," said Baumgard.

While some would think those on board might yell "mayday!", Baumgard says all passengers and the crew remained calm.

"It was actually reassuring the way that he handled it. So, I was happy about that."

Passengers are safe on the ground, but they face another issue: getting to their final destinations.

"My biggest concern is they're pushing our flight back and I might not be able to get on my flight today anymore. It might be pushed till tomorrow," said Baumgard.

Delta ended up putting him on another flight, more than four hours after Flight 2050 made the emergency landing.

It's unclear, at this time, if any of the other passengers found a way to their final destinations.

WSB-TV reports the plane safely landed in Atlanta later that night at 11 p.m.

This is a developing story - depend on us to update it as we learn more.

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