The incident started at Antwerp Airport where three men had booked a helicopter. Once in the air they forced the 35-year-old helicopter pilot to fly to prisons in Brussels. The three men had earlier contacted the helicopter rental firm seeking a “large craft, capable of carrying 6 passengers”. They also wanted an experienced pilot. They said they planned to take photos from the air.
During the flight the men took out a weapon and forced the pilot to change course. Despite what is supposed to be stringent surveillance of Brussels airspace the helicopter managed to fly over the two adjacent prisons. The aircraft hovered over the prisons for quite a while attracting a lot of attention, but given its size it couldn’t land on the prison yard.
The helicopter then set off for Walloon Brabant where the three hijackers got off at a carpooling carpark. No prisoners managed to escape.