A woodcut showing Saint Elmo's fire on a ship's mast.

Saint Elmo’s Fire is a flame like, electrical discharge that appears during stormy weather on the tips of pointed objects such as ship’s masts, steeples, trees, mountain peaks and even propellers and wings of aircraft. It is usually accompanied by a crackling or fizzling noise. Saint Elmo’s fire is a corruption of Sant’ Ermo, that Italian name for Saint Erasmus, patron saint of the Mediterranean. Sailors aboard old sailing ships believed the fiery lights on their masts signified the presence of the saint.

Some UFOlogists have cited Saint Elmo’s fire as the explanation for the famous Foo Fighters seen during World War 2. Other UFOs have also been attributed to a similar phenomenon occurring on the pointed surfaces of insects fling in swarms. Plasma occurring as a corona discharge on power lines, another effect similar to Saint Elmo’s fire, has also been cited as a cause for UFO reports.