Mike Gielen, 24, is alleged to have hijacked a helicopter, along with two friends, in order to facilitate the escape of his wife, Kristel Appelt, from Berkendaal prison. Appelt was in prison accused of murdering a former boyfriend. Gielen booked the helicopter ride a few weeks earlier, supposedly for an aerial photography tour over Brussels, departing from Deurne aerodrome, using his own name, and then, shortly after take-off, threatened the 36-year-old female pilot using replica firearms. The pilot circled the prison but could not land in the prison’s courtyard. The circling caused Gielen to feel nauseated and he vomited numerous times out of the window before giving up and ordering the pilot to fly to Hélécine, where a getaway car, driven by his step-father, was waiting in a car park. After the men fled, the pilot flew to Melsbroek airport where she was met by police. Gielen was later arrested, along with his stepfather and the two other accomplices.

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