Engineering Question #1880

Marcos Chimenti, a 37 year old male from Rio de Janeiro asks on January 29, 2004,

Does air act as an insulator against lightning on flying airplanes? I know the aluminum case is highly conductive and works as a Faraday cage (though we are talking about temperatures higher than the sun´s surface and enough volts to power all the bulbs in the world, so to speak), but I´ve been told (by a pilot) that lightning never actually "touches" the plane due to what Tesla said about air at higher altitudes dispersing electrical charges. Is this correct?

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