Actor, pilot, and general aviation advocate Harrison Ford was hospitalized March 5 after sustaining injuries in an emergency landing at a California golf course after a loss of engine power.
The Los Angeles Fire Department reported via Twitter that a single-engine airplane went down at Penmar Golf Course near Santa Monica Airport shortly before 2:30 p.m. local time. The department originally reported that the solo occupant of the aircraft had been taken to a local hospital in critical condition, and later said he was “now described as suffering fair to moderate injury.” The NTSB, which is investigating, identified the aircraft as a Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR; the military version of the ST3KR, the PT-22 Recruit, served as a primary trainer during World War II.
“Harrison was flying a WW2 vintage plane today which had engine trouble upon take off,” a representative for Ford said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly. “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.”
Ford, an avid pilot, has long supported GA, promoting the image of GA as spokesman for AOPA’s GA Serves America campaign and speaking before Congress on several occasions on issues important to pilots. He flies a variety of aircraft, from vintage tailwheel airplanes to helicopters, and in 2010 was recognized with the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy, given “for significant public service of enduring value to aviation in the United States.” He also supports the GA community at a number of aviation events, recently presenting AOPA President Mark Baker with the Harrison Ford Legacy in Aviation Award at the Twelfth Annual Living Legends of Aviation Awards.
“Pilots train and practice diligently to handle a wide range of emergency situations. Harrison used his training and experience to make smart decisions in a high pressure scenario,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “Harrison is a skilled aviator and conscientious pilot, and reacted to protect those on the ground while minimizing injury to himself. All of us in the general aviation community wish him a speedy recovery and look forward to his return to the skies.”
According to an NTSB preliminary report released March 10, the airplane took off from Runway 21 around 2:21 p.m., after which the pilot advised the tower controller of an engine failure and requested an immediate return to the airport. “The pilot initiated a left turn back towards the airport; the airplane subsequently struck the top of a tall tree prior to impacting the ground in an open area of a golf course, about 800 feet southwest of the approach end of runway 3,” the report explains. “The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings and the fuselage.”