Static wicks dissipate precipitation static that can develop as you fly through areas of uncharged particles. These particles can exist as you fly through solid or liquid particles such as rain, snow, fog, dust or ash. As the airplane flies through the particles, positive charges deflect and negative charges attach to the airframe, building up and eventually discharging at certain points of the airframe where the static wicks are generally attached. Without the wicks, there is potential for audio disturbances, weak radio transmissions and even complete loss of communication. Other possible indications of static discharge include erratic instrument readouts, erroneous magnetic compass readings and a phenomenon called St. Elmo’s Fire, where the static discharge is visible.