Scottish Daily Mail
Harrison the hero!
Pilot Ford, 72, is praised for veering away from homes in crash
HARRISON Ford was hailed a hero after avoiding homes and traffic to crash land his vintage Second World War plane on a golf course.
The 72-year-old Star Wars actor, an experienced pilot, escaped without serious injury despite clipping a tree as his stricken plane glided down from 3,000ft.
Fortunately for the star, two doctors – one a spinal surgeon – were among those playing at the Penmar Golf Club in Los Angeles. They saw his plane ‘belly flop’ on to a fairway and rushed to pull him from the wreckage – despite fearing a fireball as the smell of gasoline filled the air.
One of them, Dr Sanjay Khurana, said yesterday: ‘He was stunned a bit. He was moaning and in pain. I did a brief exam and I smelled the fuel. I didn’t want it to ignite.
‘We wanted to get him out safely and, with the fuel leaking out, I motioned to some of the other folks at the golf course to put dirt on the fuel so it wouldn’t combust. I just wanted to get him out safely so that the situation wouldn’t erupt into a fire.’
Ford was treated by emergency services on the course and yesterday had surgery for a broken ankle and pelvis and had treatment for a gashed head. His wife, actress Calista Flockhart, is at his bedside in Los Angeles, and he i s expected to make a full recovery.
Ford reported engine trouble in his 1942 Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR shortly after take- off at 2.30pm on Thursday afternoon. Without enough power to return to Santa Monica Airport, the actor warned air traffic control he would be forced to make an emergency landing, according to the US National Transportation Safety Board. His publicist 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.’
Aviation expert Rick Dake said Ford’s landing was amazing considering the unforgiving nature of the Second World War-era plane and the location close to homes and a main road to the airport. ‘Everything he did was perfect,’ added Dake, of Aviation Consulting Experts. ‘He was able to keep away from the houses and land it with the least impact on the community. That was the best place he could have landed. He was doing exactly what an excellent aviator would do.’
Eddie Aguglia, who was playing golf at the time, said yesterday: ‘Looking at where he crashed and how the plane went down, I’m sure there was a moment where he said, “I’m not going to risk lives, whatever happens, happens. It’s going to be just me.” ’
Patrick Butler of the Los Angeles Fire Department said Ford is lucky to be alive, and that he had strategically picked the golf course to steer clear of people. ‘It’s an area that probably presented the least amount of impact to the community,’ he added.
Ford’s son, Ben, 46, the eldest of his four children, posted on his Twitter page that his father was ‘OK. Battered, but OK!’ He later added: ‘He is every bit the man you would think he is.
‘He is an incredibly strong man. Thank you for all your thoughts and good vibes for my dad.’
Friends who have flown with the veteran actor described him as a careful pilot, but this is not the first time he has been in a crash. During a training flight in 1999, Ford crashed a helicopter, although he and his instructor escaped with few injuries.
‘What an excellent aviator would do’