Harrison Ford, veteran Hollywood actor and experienced light aircraft and helicopter pilot, has crashed his Ryan PT-22 Recruit on a golf course close to Santa Monica Airport in California.
Ford reported “Ryan 178 engine failure” to the Santa Monica tower shortly after take off and requested an immediate return. The air traffic controller cleared Runway 21 for an emergency landing but Ford asked instead for Runway 3, which was granted.
In the event, the World War Two trainer came down just short of the end of the runway, clipping trees on the way down according to eye witnesses. Unlike Runway 21, which is not listed as having any obstructions, Runway 3 reports a 45ft tree, 475ft from the runway, and a 6:1 slope to clear.
Although the aircraft was badly damaged it remained intact and did not catch fire. The 72-year-old Ford was pulled clear by bystanders, and was seen to be conscious and breathing. He was later reported to be suffering from a broken arm and a bad gash to his forehead. His son tweeted: “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.”
This is not Ford’s first lucky escape, as he was involved in a serious crash of a Bell 206 helicopter in 1999. Some time later he looked back on the incident saying: “There was a mechanical failure while we were practicing power recovery autorotations. It was more or less a hard landing. Luckily, I was with another aviation professional and neither of us was hurt — and both of us are still flying.”
Ford has several fixed-wing aeroplanes and helicopters and often uses his flying skills for charitable causes, including flying doctors, nurses and medical supplies to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. He is an ambassador for GA flying as well, and served for five years up to 2009 as Chairman of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagles programme, which gives children from eight to 17 the chance to experience flying.
“I enjoy the pure freedom, and the beauty of the third dimension when you fly,” he said in a magazine interview in 2009. “We live in two-dimensional world when our feet are on the ground, and getting in the sky is a rare experience that re-invigorates your perspective on things. Flying is always an adventure.”
Hopefully an adventure that this incident won’t put paid to.