THE fierce electrical storm that menaced the Sunshine Coast and southeast Queensland on Friday night is a lot scarier when you're flying in it.

Sitting on a window seat in the eerily empty emergency exit row on Virgin flight 1511 from Melbourne to the Sunshine Coast, I had a front row seat to the white flashes and lightning bolts around the plane.

My journey had started in Hobart after 3pm with a delayed flight which meant I was meant to miss my connecting flight.

My Virgin app showed I had been put on another flight to Sydney and then to the Sunshine Coast.

But a "blockage" issue in the toilet on the Melbourne to Coast flight meant it was also delayed so was "lucky" enough to get back on that flight.

Thinking back now I am a little surprised we were flying at all given the storm warnings I had seen coming through from the Sunshine Coast Daily's news alerts.

On the flight, there were just two of us sitting in the emergency exit rows, after one man had to move. The flight attendant joked it was "all up to me" should we have to make an escape.

Four storm cells in southern Queensland
Four storm cells in southern Queensland

The flight was normal enough until we started getting closer to the Sunshine Coast.

With hot white flashes coming near the window, a little turbulence, and the seatbelt warning sound being repeated, we knew were not going to be landing straight away.

At one point, the plane dropped, not thousands of metres, but considerably, resulting in plenty of gasps around the cabin.

The pilot then advised we would be 'holding' just off the Sunshine Coast for about 20 minutes until the weather improved.

Twenty minutes later, he advised a landing on the Coast was not going to work due to the intense storm activity over the airfield and that we would be going to Brisbane.

But after flying on to Brisbane, we were told that wasn't going to be an option either and we were heading for the Gold Coast, where the weather had cleared more.

 Despite the prospect of a three hour bus ride back to the Sunshine Coast, I've never been happier to see the lights of the Gold Coast high rises from the air.

Flight forced to land at Gold Coast in storms: Footage: Mark Furler
Flight forced to land at Gold Coast in storms: Footage: Mark Furler

A spontaneous round of applause broke out on the plane after we touched down on the wet runway at 7.58pm.

"We're the first arrival into the Gold Coast in two and a half hours, so things are pretty messed up,'' the pilot told passengers.

"We certainly appreciate your patience this evening. It does get a little bit concerning with all that lightning around. It looks like the whole of south-east Queensland is just covered in it and here we are.''

Lightning over the Gold Coast at Surfers Paradise. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT
Lightning over the Gold Coast at Surfers Paradise. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT

One group on our plane had been going to a wedding on the Coast - fortunately it was being held today so hopefully they still made it.

As I picked up my luggage, I had a Messenger call from Sunshine Coast businessman Myles McNamara who was also on the same flight.

He was getting a hire car and offered to give me a lift, saying he hadn't done buses in years.

As we travelled back to the Coast, I told him how news tends to follow me wherever I go.

Just after that a black special police vehicle with flashing lights passed us on the Bruce Highway.

I'm not sure he will be wanting to share a flight with me again any time soon.

Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph