Belgian hijacks helicopter to free wife from jail but can't land

Bungling Belgian drug dealer hijacks helicopter hired in his OWN NAME to free his jailbird wife only to find the prison is too small to land in

  • Mike Gielen, 24, married Kristal Appelt, 27, at a mixed-sex prison last year
  • He and two accomplices, 18 and 22, booked helicopter pretending to be TV crew 
  • Gielen produced firearm and ordered pilot to fly to prison in south of Brussels 
  • He started throwing up on arrival as the helicopter circled above unable to land 
  • Pilot told the crooks it was impossible to land in the small prison courtyard
  • Flew to car park 30 miles away where Gielen’s father was waiting in getaway car
  • But police easily tracked the men who booked the helicopter with real names 

A Belgian drug dealer who hijacked a helicopter at gunpoint in an attempt to break his wife out of jail has been caught after using his real name to book the aircraft.

Mike Gielen, 24, married Kristal Appelt, 27, last year at a mixed-sex prison in Hasselt. She is awaiting trial for the murder of her then boyfriend.

Gielen and two accomplices, aged 18 and 22, booked Friday’s flight from Duerne, near Antwerp, under the pretence that they were a TV crew who needed pictures for a programme.

They flew over landmarks like the Atomium and the Lion of Waterloo before Gielen produced a replica firearm and ordered their pilot, a 35-year-old woman, to fly low towards Berkendael women’s prison in south Brussels.

Mike Gielen, 24, and his two accomplices ordered the pilot to take them to the women’s prison in Berkendael in the south of Brussels before abandoning the effort and flying to a carpark in Hélécine where Gielen’s father was waiting in the getaway car

The pilot was unable to bring the helicopter down in Prison de Forest because the grounds were too small 

The helicopter arrived at two other prisons before making it to the correct facility, whereupon Gielen vomited out of the window five times as the chopper circled above.

As guards looked up at the aircraft in horror, the women prisoners cheered and laughed.

The pilot was eventually able to convince the men that it was impossible to land the helicopter in the tiny prison grounds and they flew to a car park in Hélécine, around 30 miles east of Brussels, where Gielen’s father was waiting with a getaway car.

But investigators had no difficulty tracking the gang down because Gielen and his two accomplices had filled out forms before their flight using their real names.

The trio and Gielen’s father face charges of kidnapping, conspiracy to attempt a jailbreak, theft and gang violence.

Tom van Overbeke, Gielen’s lawyer, said his client had admitted to his crime. He added: ‘The whole thing has been staged quite amateurishly.’

Gielen, a convicted drug runner, met his wife at the Hasselt prison one day when they were both waiting for visitors to arrive.

They knew each other from a long time ago but hadn’t seen each other in many years, Gielen told Het Belang van Limburg newspaper last year after their behind-bars nuptials.

Unable to see each other, they organised to both take computer classes at the same time and were later married.

They posed for photos back-to-back like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s gun-toting characters in the 2005 film Mr and Mrs Smith.

‘I will keep waiting for her. Even if it takes 30 years before she is released.’ Gielen told the paper at the time. ‘I don’t care. Our love is forever.’ 

Appelt is charged with the murder of her former boyfriend, who died after being stabbed in a street fight in December 2018.

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