Ford plane hit tree before landing

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Published: Saturday 7th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Hollywood actor Harrison Ford clipped a tree as he chose the “best spot” to crash-land his vintage plane on a golf course, air crash investigators said.

The 72-year-old was flying a 1942 Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR when he reported a loss of engine power and attempted to return to the airport he had taken off from.

The actor, who is best known for his starring roles in the Star Wars movies and Indiana Jones franchise, was reportedly left bloodied with a large cut on his head.

Patrick Jones, an air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, said Ford picked “the best spot” to make a safe landing after running into difficulty following take-off from Santa Monica airport and attempting to return to the runway.

He added: “The airplane clipped a tree and came to rest on the golf course. The investigation is ongoing. We are going to finish documenting the accident site and recover the airplane to a local hangar for further investigation, it will be examined and the records of the aircraft will be examined and we will submit a factual report.

“The process will take a couple of weeks to a month and the final report probably won’t be out for a year.”

Asked by reporters about the skill involved in landing a plane under those conditions, Jones said: “When you take off from an airport and you need to land an aircraft you have to pick the best spots that there are and this was the best spot at this point.”

He added: “Any time that a human being can survive an accident involving an airplane it’s a good day, it is really hard to walk into an accident and not jump to conclusions, conclusions get you in trouble.”

Ford was the only occupant of the single engine plane when it crashed on the nine-hole Penmar Golf Course in Venice, California at 2.30pm (10.30pm GMT) on Thursday.

Patrick Butler of the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) – who would not officially identify Ford due to privacy restrictions – said he suffered moderate injuries.

Speaking from the scene of the crash, he said: “He suffered basically some moderate trauma and he was alert and conscious and paramedics from LAFD transported the patient to the local area hospital.”

Jones said he believed the plane Ford was piloting was the subject of an award winning restoration, adding: “It’s a reciprocal engine, it has a lot of different systems but this is a fairly simple aircraft, it’s a 1942 vintage aircraft and there’s not a lot of computers to it so a lot of it is old school mechanics.”

Officials from the NTSB and LAFD removed the yellow wings of the small plane before it was winched up on a crane and transferred to a truck to be taken to a nearby hangar for further investigation.

Firefighters stood close by with hoses as the small plane was transferred from the crane to the flatbed of a lorry and driven from the golf course.

A witness yesterday reportedly told TMZ: “I was one of the first people to run from the hole toward the plane. Four to five men pulled the pilot out of the plane. They got him away from the plane. They were concerned it would catch on fire.

“Two doctors were there – and they had a first aid box with them. He was conscious, talking a little – a huge cut on his head. A swathe of his skin was missing. There was blood dripping down his face.”

The actor’s son Ben said his father is “incredibly strong” and thanked the public for their good wishes.

“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,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Thank you all for your thoughts and good vibes for my dad.”

Mr Jones said: “We’re going to look at everything: weather, man, the machine.”

In a recording on the website LiveATC.net, a man – believed to be Ford – is heard to say “engine failure, immediate return”.

Video footage also emerged of paramedics treating the actor at the scene of the crash.

The actor has been in the wars of late and broke his leg in June last year while filming JJ Abrams’s Star Wars Episode VII at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire.

Ford, who is married to actress Calista Flockhart, got his pilot’s licence in the 1990s and has made headlines with his flying before – although he had never been significantly injured doing it.

He has been involved in several rescues and a plane he was piloting was blown off a runway in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 2000.

He has also volunteered his services during forest-fire season, when rescue helicopters are busy fighting blazes.

Published: Saturday 7th March 2015 by The News Editor

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