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Harrison Ford 'Battered But OK' Following Plane Crash

Marcus Errico
·Editor-in-Chief, Yahoo Entertainment
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Harrison Ford has been hospitalized in Los Angeles after a frightening plane crash on a Southern California golf course.

Ford, 72, was at the helm when his small aircraft, a bright yellow Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR, slammed into Penmar Golf Course near Santa Monica Municipal Airport.

"Harrison was flying a WWII vintage plane today which had engine trouble upon take off," Ford's publicist said in a statement. "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. The injuries sustained are not life-threatening, and he is expected to make a full recovery,"

The actor's son, Ben Ford, also tweeted that his father was doing well.

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Ford reported engine failure shortly after takeoff, around 2:20 p.m., and told air-traffic controllers he was returning to the airport before clipping the top of a tree and crash-landing his open-cockpit plane on the nearby golf course. 

"We saw this beautiful plane. It looks like a plane I see often, leaving from Santa Monica Airport. Must have hit top of tree," Howard Teba, who was on the course when the plane crashed, told NBC LA.

"I heard this sputtering noise and knew a plane was coming down," another golfer, Rick Doukakis, told Entertainment Tonight. "If he didn't hit that tree... he would have hit some houses." Doukakis believes Ford intentionally maneuvered into the trees to slow down.

The mangled aircraft landed upside-down near the eighth hole.

Doukakis, who didn't recognize the movie star, said the pilot was moaning loudly and "had a huge gash in forehead, there was lots of blood." There were no visible broken bones and he was moving his legs, Doukakis added.

Witnesses said that men on the scene, apparently doctors, came to the pilot's aid until paramedics arrived. News choppers beamed live images of the man being put on a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance.

While the Los Angeles Fire Department initially indicated the pilot was taken to the hospital in "critical condition," the Santa Monica Fire Department later said he was "conscious and breathing" and in "fair to moderate" condition. At an afternoon press conference, authorities affirmed that the injuries were not as severe as originally thought.

NTSB investigator Patrick Jones, who called Ford "lucky to be alive," declined to speculate on what caused the crash; but he did tell reporters, "This pilot is an experienced pilot." 

Harrison Ford (GC Images)
Harrison Ford (GC Images)

The star of Star Wars and Indiana Jones is an avid aviator, with experience flying both planes and helicopters. 

"I wanted to pursue my pilot's license back when I was in college, just three lessons I think," Ford recalled during an interview in 2010. "I think it cost about $11 an hour for a plane and an instructor, I just couldn't afford it."

Eventually he did have the funds, but didn't end up obtaining his pilot's license until age 53.

"I never lost the ambition to fly. I just hadn't found the time," explained Ford. "I hadn't before challenged myself to learn something that could be so formidable. I had great training, and it came in stages. In my life I have two roles… One of them everyone knows about. It provides a means to the other, which I prefer."

The actor has used his helicopter skills to rescue stranded hikers on two separate occasions.