BRUSSELS: At Leeuwarden Air Base, a Belgian F-16 collided with a building during take-off. This happened while driving, before the aircraft was off the ground, the Safety Region reports. The F-16 drilled several meters into the one-storey building.
Shortly before that, the pilot used his ejection seat to get out of the aircraft. He landed just outside the base area and injured his leg. He has been taken to a hospital. Another Belgian soldier, who was working on the aircraft as a so-called crew chief when it went wrong , was also taken to hospital as a precaution.
No one was present in the building where the fighter jet crashed into. There is only material damage.
It seems that the F-16 accelerated on its own when it started up, says the Ministry of Defense. It is not yet clear how that could have happened. The plane that crashed is a Belgian F-16. They regularly practice at Leeuwarden Air Base. The pilot and the crew chief took part in an international exercise. It was shut down after the accident.
At a gate at the air force base, rescuers were busy and a parachute could be seen:
According to a spotter at the base with whom Omrop Fryslân spoke, the aircraft had just been given permission to take off around 09.15 hours. “We were standing at the spotters hump near Marsum. Suddenly we heard a lot of noise. And at that moment I see a tail of an F-16 rolling over the platform at a fairly high speed.”
The emergency services rushed out en masse. Fire extinguishers sprayed foam directly on the device. They were able to prevent it from catching fire.
The Dutch Safety Board will conduct an investigation. Employees are on their way to Leeuwarden for an exploratory investigation, the council reports on Twitter . A team from the Belgian defense will also investigate the accident.
Leeuwarden has been the operating base for the Dutch F-16s for decades. The fighter jet has almost reached the end of its life. They are making way for F-35s.
The old aircraft would today be flown to the air base in Volkel, where they will be used for a few more years. Because of that goodbye, it was extra busy today at the spotters place. “There were a lot of people, so also a lot of people who saw it. It should have been a very beautiful day, but now perhaps a sad day. Many spotters stood with trembling legs. You are shocked.”
That festive farewell has now been postponed, the Leeuwarder Courant reports.
Last week, a group of F-16s flew an ‘Eleven Cities Tour’ in formation over Friesland as a way of saying goodbye to the province .