The actor of “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” fame, an accomplished pilot, was in fair-to-moderate condition after his vintage aircraft suffered engine failure shortly after takeoff and crashed into a fairway at Penmar GC in Venice, Calif.
Actor Harrison Ford was in fair-to-moderate condition after his two-seater plane, a vintage 1942 model, crash-landed on Thursday afternoon, March 5, on a fairway at Penmar Golf Course, a public, nine-hole facility in Venice, Calif., Fox News reported.
The crash came shortly after Ford reported engine failure after taking off from Santa Monica (Calif.) Municipal Airport and told air-traffic controllers he was returning to the airport. The early reports did not indicate Ford’s intended destination or other details about his flight plan.
Ford’s representative, Ina Treciokas, said in a statement to Fox News that Ford “had no other choice but to make an emergency landing, which he did safely.” Treciokas said that the star of the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” hit movie series was “banged up” and receiving treatment, but that his injuries were not life-threatening and he is “expected to make a full recovery.”
Ford was the only person aboard the aircraft when it crash-landed. His son Ben, a chef in Los Angeles, tweeted after the crash that his father was doing fine: “At the hospital. Dad is ok. Battered, but ok! He is every bit the man you would think he is. He is an incredibly strong man.”
Ford took off from the Santa Monica airport at around 2 p.m. Pacific Time, Fox News reported. About 20 minutes later, Ford, 72, told the airport’s tower that he was having engine failure and was making an “immediate return.” The plane crashed at Penmar GC, about a quarter-mile short of the airport runway, soon afterward.
Ford was about a half-mile west of the airport and flying at 3,000 feet when he told air traffic controllers that his engine failed, Elaine Polachek, interim Santa Monica City Manager, said in an e-mail to city officials, Fox News reported. Some witnesses reported that the plane hit a tree on its way down, Polachek added.
“Immediately you could see the engine started to sputter and just cut out, and he banked sharply to the left,” said Jeff Kuprycz, who was golfing when he saw the plane taking off. “He ended up crashing around the eighth hole.” The crash site was just yards from residential properties that abut the 8th fairway, reports said.
Kuprycz estimated the plane was about 200 feet overhead when it plunged to the ground.
“There was no explosion or anything. It just sounded like a car hitting the ground or a tree or something. Like that one little bang, and that was it,” Kuprycz said.
Charlie Thomson, a flight instructor at the airport who saw Ford take off, said engine failure like Ford’s does not make the plane harder to maneuver, Fox News reported. “It just means you have to go down,” Thompson said.
Los Angeles fire officials said that Ford was initially aided by two doctors who happened to be playing golf nearby.
Spinal surgeon Sanjay Khurana said he found the actor slumped over in the cockpit but conscious, and he saw fuel leaking out of the plane. Khurana and other golfers pulled Ford from the wreckage. Others threw dirt on the fuel so it wouldn’t catch fire.
Gloria Dedios, 43, who lives across the street from the golf course, was making juice in her kitchen when she heard the plane crash and the ground shook, Fox News reported.
Dedios said she saw four or five people helping Ford on the golf course. Paramedics arrived and asked him to move his head and his arms, which he did. He also was able to move his legs.
Ford had a cut to his forehead and scraped arms, but it wasn’t clear what internal injuries he may have had, Los Angeles Fire Chief Patrick Butler said. “He wasn’t a bloody mess. He was alert. He had good vitals,” Butler said.
The plane, a yellow 1942 Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR with stars on its wings, was upright and mostly intact after the crash. No one on the ground was hurt.
“I would say that this is an absolutely beautifully executed—what we would call a forced or emergency landing—by an unbelievably well-trained pilot,” said Christian Fry of the Santa Monica Airport Association.
Ford got his pilot’s license in the late 1980s and has served as a spokesperson for various airline associations, Fox News reported. In 2009, he stepped down as chairman of a youth program for the Experimental Aircraft Association.
His flying made headlines in 2001 when he rescued a missing Boy Scout on his helicopter. Nearly a year before, he rescued an ailing mountain climber in Jackson, Wyo. He has also volunteered his services during forest-fire season, when rescue helicopters are busy fighting blazes.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will investigate the crash in a process that could take up to a year before a final report, Fox News reported. “We’re going to look at everything—weather, man, the machine,” said NTSB investigator Patrick Jones.
The Santa Monica airport’s single runway sits amid residential neighborhoods in the city of more than 90,000 on the Pacific Ocean, Fox News reported. City leaders and many residents have advocated closing the airport, citing noise and safety concerns. Other airplanes taking off or landing there have crashed into homes, and in September 2013 four people died when their small jet veered into a hangar and caught fire.
Ford is cast to play the swashbuckling Han Solo in his fourth “Star Wars” movie, set for release in December 2015. The original “Star Wars” in 1977 made Ford, who later played whip-slinging archaeologist Indiana Jones in four hugely popular movies, an instant star.
Shooting on “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was shut down for several weeks last July after Ford broke his leg during filming at the Pinewood Studios outside London. The accident involved the spacecraft door of the Millennium Falcon, which makes a return in the highly anticipated film.
An NBC News report about the crash that includes footage of the plane and Ford receiving treatment can be seen at