Direct evidence is presented for a causal relationship between lightning and strong electric field transients inside equatorial ionospheric density depletions. In fact, these whistler mode plasma waves may be the dominant electric field signal within such depletions. Optical lightning data from the Communication/Navigation Outage Forecast System (C/NOFS) satellite and global lightning location information from the World Wide Lightning Location Network are presented as independent verification that these electric field transients are caused by lightning. The electric field instrument on C/NOFS routinely measures lightning-related electric field wave packets or sferics, associated with simultaneous measurements of optical flashes at all altitudes encountered by the satellite (401–867 km). Lightning-generated whistler waves have abundant access to the topside ionosphere, even close to the magnetic equator.