An off-duty spine surgeon who was playing golf when Harrison Ford's plane crash-landed nearby has described the dramatic moment he rushed to help the Hollywood actor as he "moaned in pain".
Harrison Ford, whose roles most memorable roles include Han Solo and Indiana Jones, suffered engine failure while piloting his vintage light aircraft on Thursday, but managed to steer from nearby houses and land his plane on a Los Angeles golf course just short of the eighth tee - where two golfing doctors were conveniently on hand to offer assistance.
As the star’s publicist confirmed that his injuries weren’t life threatening and a full recovery was expected yesterday, praise gushed in for the man who epitomised cool in both his Star Wars and Indiana Jones roles.
Having taken off from Santa Monica Airport, he reported the problem with his 1942 Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR a short time later and was making an “immediate return” – but was unable to reach the runway.
It was “an absolutely beautifully executed emergency landing by an unbelievably well-trained pilot”, said Christian Fry of the Santa Monica Airport Association.
Surgeon Sanjay Khurana told ABC News that he was playing golf when the plane came down on the course. “He was obviously moaning and in pain,” he said. “My task was to get him out of the airplane in a somewhat urgent manner because the fuel was leaking.”
“Thank God he’s alive,” said witness Carlos Gomez, “and we have Harrison Ford for more time.”
Ford’s son, Ben, tweeted from the hospital: “Dad is OK. Battered, but OK!” after Thursday’s incident, adding that Ford “is every bit the man you would think he is”.
Other stars fly aeroplanes. John Travolta keeps his own Boeing 707 in his backyard. In 2010 he packed the Boeing with food aid and flew it to earthquake-hit Haiti.
But after that “beautifully executed emergency landing”, the question still arises: does anyone do Hollywood flying quite like Harrison Ford?
He has had previous near-misses. In 1999, he and his instructor escaped uninjured after he had to crash-land his helicopter during a training flight. In 2000, he saved himself and his passenger from injury when a powerful gust of wind forced him to make an emergency landing in a Beechcraft Bonanza single-engine plane.
But such close shaves were not enough to deter a man reported to have his own mini-squadron of 11 aircraft. In July 2000, in Wyoming, Teton County Sheriff Bob Zimmer was wondering how he could possibly rescue a 20-year-old hiker stuck dehydrated and vomiting near the top of the 11,106ft Table Mountain. He called the one man who could help – local resident Harrison Ford, with his Bell 407 helicopter. Ford touched down in an alpine meadow and plucked the woman to safety.
“He loves aviation and he’s just trying to help people,” said the sheriff. “I can’t believe I barfed in Harrison Ford’s helicopter!” said the starstruck rescuee.
The next year Ford was at it again. This time a 13-year-old boy scout was lost in Yellowstone National Park. Ford got in his helicopter and found the boy cold, wet, and hungry after surviving a night alone in the wilderness.
“Boy, you sure must have earned a merit badge for this one,” drawled Ford. “I already earned that badge last summer,” replied the boy scout.
Even Ford’s injuries have a certain aura about them. Last summer when he broke his ankle while filming the latest Star Wars film, he did it near the Millennium Falcon.
In 1983 while filming Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, he fell from an elephant and aggravated an old back injury – potentially a comic pratfall were it not for the fact that he continued doing his own stunts. He was still doing his own stunts in his sixties.
Ford wasn’t always this cool. He got the scar on his chin from his first documented crash, in 1964. While fumbling for his seatbelt, he drove straight into a telephone pole.Reuse content