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Belgian F-16 makes emergency landing in Ostend after lightning strike

September 14, 2022 (by Lieven Dewitte) - After being hit by a bolt of lightning, Belgian F-16 (#FB-20) from 31 sqn made a successful emergency landing at Ostend-Bruges airport on Wednesday afternoon.

BAF F-16BM #FB-20 from 31 sqn is taxiing by the lens at Ørland AB on September 28th, 2007 during the Arctic Tiger exercise. [Photo by André Jans]

The pilot decided to make an emergency landing, by dumping fuel to reduce the landing weight. During that process, the toxic substance Hydrazine was also released.

It is the latter that grounded the aircraft. The runway was closed for a while and medical assistance was provided for the pilot although he was unharmed.

Local residents were immediately asked to keep windows and doors closed as Hydrazine was still in the atmosphere. People in the airport parking lot were also asked to enter the building to avoid interacting with toxic materials. No one was allowed outside.

Rain ensured that the substance disappeared from the atmosphere fairly quickly. The runway was soon reopened. A total of three flights were delayed or diverted.

Earlier this year in May 2022 an F-16 from Kleine Brogel AB made a precautionary emergency landing at Ostend airport after a bird strike. A fist-sized hole just under the canopy had been punched in the nose of the F-16.

Additional images:

BAF F-16BM #FB-20 from the 10th Wing is buzzing by the camera at high speed at Kleine Brogel AB on July 17th, 2007. [Photo by Mike Schoenmaker]

BAF F-16BM #FB-20 taxiing at an Aalborg AB taxiway on June 22nd, 2004. [Photo by Erik Frikke]