A passenger on a Belfast- bound flight last night described the terrifying moment when the plane was struck by lightning.
The Flybe flight from Birmingham to George Best Belfast City Airport was forced to make a diversion to Manchester International Airport after a bolt of lightning struck its nose cone yesterday.
Bristol-based media consultant Ellen Kenny, who was travelling to Belfast on business, described how fear gripped passengers as the lightning struck the plane in mid-air.
She said: "It was a bad flight anyway and was very bumpy right from when we took off at Birmingham. The noise the lightning made when it hit the plane frightened everybody, it was like a big bang.
"Then I looked out the window and I could see this fuzzy blue light around the plane. Nobody screamed, but you could hear a deep intake of breath when we heard the bang.
"Because it was bumpy the cabin crew were still in their seats. People just looked at them when the lightning hit. A male member of the crew assured everyone that things were OK and told us it was lightning.
"They were very good and were a very calming influence."
Ms Kenny said passengers remained nervous until the plane touched down at Manchester, where it had been diverted.
She added: "We knew we had to leave the flight crew to carry out their checks. But we didn't know if we were going back to Birmingham or if we were going to Manchester. People were very tense until we touched down.
"When we were in Manchester we were told by a member of the flight crew that the lightning left a scorch mark on the nose and knocked out a couple of rivets. It was a very scary experience."
Passengers were later transferred to another aircraft to continue their journey to Belfast.
A spokesperson for Flybe said passengers were never in danger during the incident and that the plane suffered no damage.
"Flybe confirms that an aircraft was struck by lightning after take-off from Birmingham.
"As a precaution, the plane which was bound for Belfast was diverted to Manchester where it made a routine landing. Passengers were transferred to another aircraft to complete their journey to Belfast.
"The lightning strike did not damage the aircraft, which underwent a thorough inspection and there was no danger at any time to passengers or crew."