Harrison Ford injured in small-plane crash

2015-03-06 09:41

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Harrison Ford crash-landed his World War II-era aeroplane yesterday after losing engine power, suffering serious but not life-threatening injuries as he used his years of piloting prowess to bring down the plane on a golf course and avoid nearby homes in what one expert called a beautifully executed manoeuvre.

It was the latest and most serious in a series of crashes and close calls for the 72-year-old action-adventure A-lister, who like his Star Wars alter-ego Han Solo has a taste for aerial thrills. He was pulled from the plane by golfers and course workers who saw it come down short of the runway at Santa Monica Municipal Airport, and was taken by ambulance to a hospital conscious and breathing.

He was pulled from the plane and given initial help by doctors who happened to be playing golf on the course that is right next to the airport, Los Angeles fire officials said.

A general view at the Penmar Golf Course after a single-engine plane piloted by actor Harrison Ford crashed.

Ford’s publicist Ina Treciokas said Ford had no other choice but to make an emergency landing. She said his injuries “are not life threatening, and he is expected to make a full recovery”.

Ford took off from the airport at 2pm (midnight South African time) About 20 minutes later, he told the tower he had engine failure and was making an immediate return, according to a recording posted by the website LiveATC.net.

The plane had been flying at about 914 metres and hit a tree on the way down, according to witnesses and officials.

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 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 bystanders pulled him from the plane because they were afraid it might explode or catch fire, Butler said.

Eddie Agoglia (47) was golfing on the eighth hole at the course. He said he looked up and saw the vintage plane with “US Army” on its underside.

“The engine gave a little sputter” and died, he said.

Jeff Kuprycz, another golfer, said the plane “banked sharply to the left” then went down.

“There was no explosion or anything. It just sounded like a car hitting the ground or a tree or something,” Kuprycz said.

Ford is cast to play the swashbuckling Solo in his fourth Star Wars movie, set for release in December. The original Star Wars in 1977 made Ford an overnight star. He later played whip-slinging archaeologist Indiana Jones in four hugely popular movies.

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.

Ford got his pilot’s licence in the 1990s and has made headlines with his flying before, though he had never been significantly injured doing it.

The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash in a process that could take up to a year before a final report. Safety board investigator Patrick Jones said “we’re going to look at everything: weather, man, the machine”.

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