COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - Passengers of a United Airlines flight bound for Charleston are safely back home Monday night after their plane was diverted to Columbia following a lightning strike.
The plane, United Airlines flight 4613 from Chicago to Charleston, diverted to Columbia Metropolitan Airport for a safety inspection after the lightning strike as a precautionary measure, airport spokesperson Kaela Harmon said.
Crews also discovered damage to an air conditioning unit, Harmon said.
The 47 passengers aboard were initially expected to continue to Charleston, but after the damage was discovered, the decision was made to transport the passengers by bus.
"Safety is absolutely the number one issue," Harmon said.
Brian Cooper, who was traveling from San Diego to Charleston for a job, was one of the passengers aboard flight 4613.
"It was definitely scary, we all knew that it was lightning," Cooper said Monday night following a bus trip from Columbia to Charleston."There was a bright flash of lightning that jolted the plane. I think most of us felt it, then definitely smelled some burning."
Cooper said the captain of the plane then came on the loudspeakers and let everyone know what was going on, and that the plane was being diverted to Columbia as a precautionary measure.
"From there, they just let us know that the plane wasn't going to be able to fly back [to Charleston] and that they would put us on a bus to get here," Cooper said.
It is normal for a plane to undergo an inspection as soon as possible after a reported lightning strike, Harmon said.