NEW: Man who lives near crash site says he heard plane's engine cut off
Publicist says Ford was forced to land, will make full recovery
Fellow pilot says Harrison Ford is very skilled, safety-conscious
Actor Harrison Ford was “banged up” and hospitalized Thursday afternoon after a 1940s aircraft he was piloting crashed during a forced landing on a golf course, his publicist said.
“Harrison was flying a WW2 vintage plane today which had engine trouble upon takeoff,” Ina Treciokas said. “He had no other choice but to make an emergency landing, which he did safely. He was banged up and is in the hospital receiving medical care. The injuries sustained are not life threatening, and he is expected to make a full recovery.”
His son was with him at the hospital.
It was not Harrison Ford, the veteran actor, who made news Thursday; it was Harrison Ford, the experienced pilot, who managed to coax his single-engine plane to a forced landing on a Southern California golf course after the plane’s engine failed.
Los Angeles Fire Department Assistant Chief Patrick Butler, who wouldn’t identify Ford as the patient, said the pilot suffered moderate trauma and was “alert and conscious” when he was taken to the hospital. He said the pilot, the only person on board, was in fair to moderate condition.
The 72-year-old actor was in a two-seat, single-engine 1942 military trainer that went down on Penmar Golf Course near Santa Monica Airport.
Patrick Jones, an investigator with National Transportation Safety Board, told reporters that the plane’s engine failed.
A man who lives near where the plane came down told CNN he heard the plane in trouble.
“I heard it having problems and then he turned around,” Jens Lucking said. “When he was right by the house, the engine cut out and then he turned around.”
The plane clipped a tree top as it glided back toward the airport, officials said. It landed on its belly with the landing gear collapsed underneath and the left wing touching the ground. There is a mark in the ground behind the plane where the aircraft sliced into the grass.
Ford had just taken off when the plane experienced some kind of problem. He was trying to return to the airport, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.
Tom Haines with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association said he had flown with Ford in the past.
“He’s a very skilled pilot. He’s very safety-conscious and goes to training routinely for all of his aircraft,” Haines said.
Santa Monica Airport is a small facility with one runway, originally built in 1919. But now it is basically in the back yard of a very dense beach community. There have been many complaints about the air traffic and golfers and neighbors say aircraft fly too close to homes.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA said the plane was a Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR. According to FAA registry, the plane is owned by MG Aviation Inc. The plane was not equipped with a flight data recorder, Jones of the NTSB said.
It is not the first aviation-related incident for the star of the “Star Wars” and the Indiana Jones film franchises.
In 1999, Ford had to make an hard emergency landing in a California riverbed while flying in a helicopter with a flight instructor. MG Aviation also was the owner of that aircraft, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
He missed time during the filming of “Star Wars: Episode VII” last year in Buckinghamshire, England, when he broke one of his legs on the set.