A pilot of an F-16 fighter jet belonging to the Belgian Air Force was left suspended from a high-voltage electricity line by the strappings of his parachute on Thursday after ejecting from his plane when it went into a dive over the western French coast.
The jet’s other pilot, who also parachuted out, reached the ground safely. The aircraft crashed about 20 miles east of Lann-Bihoué air base, near Lorient.
French emergency services told Ouest-France, a regional newspaper, that the pilot’s position hanging from the power cables complicated his rescue. But the prefecture of Morbihan, the local authority, said that firefighters had rescued the pilot, and that both pilots were being treated by emergency workers. It added that 15 people had been evacuated from eight houses in the area as a precautionary measure.
Pictures on social media seems to show the pilot dangling from the lines over a plowed field. Television footage also showed the roof of a house partly damaged in the crash and a smaller outer structure in flames.
The jet crashed Thursday morning en route from Florennes, Belgium, to the French air base, the prefecture of Morbihan, the local authority, said in an emailed statement.
The F-16 was flying unarmed, and the authorities were examining its cargo, the statement added.
The Belgian Air Force, in a post on Twitter, confirmed the crash and the pilots’ use of their ejector seats but did not immediately disclose why the jet had been in French airspace. The air force said the pilots had suffered minor injuries.
Many NATO members have used American-made Lockheed Martin F-16s in their fleets for decades. Belgium announced last year that it would replace its F-16s, which were first introduced in the 1970s, with the newer F-35.
Belgium was among the first overseas customers of the F-16 program and is currently operating 60 of the aircraft.
In 2012, a pilot who ejected from an F-16 near the Kleine Brogel air base in Belgium when the plane caught fire after a bird strike also had an awkward landing. On that occasion, firefighters had to rescue the aviator when his parachute got tangled in a tree.