AirTran Flight Struck By Lightning

An airplane was struck by lightning shortly after taking off but returned safely to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, authorities said.

The AirTran flight, which had 116 passengers and five crew members, took off shortly before 10 p.m. Thursday during a thunderstorm. It was bound for Washington.

"It's not that unusual and the aircrafts have lightning rods and everything on it," said airline spokesman Tad Hutcheson. The pilot decided to return as a precaution, he said.

AirTran flight 186 - a Boeing 717 - landed in Atlanta at 10:20 p.m. and passengers were loaded onto a different plane.

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