April 18, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

NTSB holds mid-morning Friday briefing on Harrison Ford plane crash

The plane, piloted by actor Harrison Ford, crashed at 2:25 p.m. Thursday shortly after taking off from Santa Monica Airport. Photo by Phil Brock
The plane, piloted by actor Harrison Ford, crashed at 2:25 p.m. Thursday shortly after taking off from Santa Monica Airport. Photo by Phil Brock

“Battered, but OK,” actor Harrison Ford was hospitalized today with injuries he suffered when the World War II-era single-engine plane he was piloting lost power and crashed on a Venice golf course shortly after takeoff from Santa Monica Airport.

The single-engine plane, identified by the National Transportation Safety Board as a Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR — a type of aircraft built in the 1930s and used to train military pilots from the United States and other countries — went down about 2:25 p.m. Thursday on a fairway at Penmar Golf Course at 1233 Rose Ave., Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott said.

Area residents said this was the second time in recent years a plane crashed at  Penmar, a nine-hole Los Angeles city course.

Scott said there was only one person aboard the plane. Authorities initially declined to identify the pilot, saying only it was a man in his 70s who was conscious and alert when he was treated by paramedics at the scene.

LAFD Assistant Chief Patrick Butler said the pilot was outside the plane when crews arrived and was taken to a hospital, suffering “moderate” trauma.

“Normally, the outcomes are fatalities, so we are very thankful,” he said.

Ford’s publicist said in a statement that the 72-year-old actor was banged up, but his injuries are not life-threatening and he’s expected to make a full recovery.

Ford’s son, Ben Ford, posted on his Twitter page that his father was “OK. Battered, but OK!”

“He is every bit the man you would think he is,” Ben Ford wrote. “He is an incredibly strong man. Thank you for all your thoughts and good vibes for my dad.”

Dr. Sanjay Khurana, a spinal surgeon who had been playing golf, told reporters he saw the plane clip a tree before coming down. He said he and others examined the pilot, who had suffered soft-tissue injuries, made sure he was stable and helped him out of the plane.

NTSB Investigator Patrick Jones gave reporters a mid-morning briefing at the accident site today that included the following information:

— investigators plan to finish documenting the crash site — including taking detailed photographs — before anything is “moved or altered”;

— then, they will remove the plane, probably later this morning, to a local hangar, where they will examine the aircraft, including its engine and records;

— the 1942 vintage aircraft had been fully restored, and it was an “award winning” restoration;

— there was no indication that there was any bad fuel, but every possibility remained under investigation;

— the initial process leading to a preliminary report will take two weeks to a month, and the full process leading to a final report probably will take about a year; and

— investigators are urging people with video related to the crash to go to the NTSB.gov website and follow the link to upload their videos for investigators to use in their probe of the crash.

The airplane landed right-side up and was largely intact, and it left gouges on the fairway.

Ford had just taken off, experienced engine trouble and was circling back to the airport when he crash-landed on the golf course, according to the NTSB, which is investigating the crash along with the Federal Aviation Administration.

“We go back to the basics. The initial report was a loss of engine power. We are going to look at that but we are going to look at it all, at everything — weather, man, the machine,” Jones said earlier.

Ford, a longtime aviation enthusiast who has even piloted helicopters in search-and-rescue situations and who owns several aircraft, is active with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the Experimental Aircraft Association.

He crashed a helicopter in the Lake Piru area near Santa Clarita during a training flight in 1999, and a six-passenger plane he was piloting in 2000 was hit by wind shear and crash-landed in Lincoln, Nebraska. He and his passenger emerged from that crash unhurt.

The plane that crashed Thursday is registered to MG Aviation Inc. of Camden, Delaware, according to the FAA’s online aircraft registry.

Thursday’s crash is likely to reinvigorate the debate over the future of Santa Monica Airport. Residents and some city officials have been pushing to close the airport, citing noise and safety issues. Federal authorities have insisted, however, that the city is required to keep it open.

Ford has allied himself with the effort to preserve the airport, contributing almost $26,000 to the campaign for a pro-airport ballot measure that went down to defeat in November.

Valerie Davidson, who has lived in Santa Monica for 25 years, told the Los Angeles Times that Ford “flies in and out of here all the time. He’s not a friend of the residents of this neighborhood.

“I’m pleased he’s OK, but this might be a wake-up call,” Davidson said.

Last year, Ford was seriously injured, suffering a broken leg on the set of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” delaying filming on the much-anticipated sequel. He is best known for playing Han Solo in three “Star Wars” movies and Indiana Jones in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and its sequels.

 

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