LOS ANGELES: Hollywood star Harrison Ford was injured when the small plane he was flying suffered engine failure and crash-landed on a golf course outside Los Angeles, officials said.
The 72-year-old “Indiana Jones” and “Star Wars” actor suffered multiple gashes to his head and was left bleeding after the crash of the vintage two-seater plane, according to the TMZ celebrity website, publishing a picture of the downed aircraft, its nose cone ripped open.
“At the hospital. Dad is OK. Battered, but OK! He is every bit the man you would think he is. He is an incredibly strong man,” said Ford’s son Ben in a tweet.
The striking yellow-silver plane had just taken off from Santa Monica Airport. In audio with air traffic control obtained by AFP, Ford can be heard saying, in an urgent voice: “Engine failure,” before requesting “immediate return” to the airport.
A Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman, who did not identify Harrison, initially said the pilot was critically injured, but that was later changed to moderately hurt.
“When we arrived on scene we had a small aircraft that was down on Penmar Golf Course, near the Santa Monica Airport,” spokesman Erik Scott told Agence France-Presse, recounting the early afternoon crash at the golf course in Venice, southwest of Los Angeles.
There was only one person in the plane, he said, declining to give a name, citing privacy issues.
Another LAFD spokesman, Patrick Butler, speaking at the scene, described the injuries as “fair to moderate.”
“The patient left the scene conscious and breathing,” said Butler.
The KTLA television station cited witnesses as saying Ford was helped out of the plane by bystanders on the golf course, and that he could use his legs.
It showed video footage of the aircraft, which gashed a stretch of grass on the golf course before coming to a halt the right way up.
The crash is expected to be investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), said the LAFD spokesman Scott.
The plane involved is a Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR, the NTSB said in a tweet. The aircraft, used in training in World War II, flies in the mostly yellow colors of the US Army Air Corps.
Ford, who was photographed with the plane at Santa Monica Airport just a few days ago, is known in the US aviation community as an enthusiastic pilot.
He took his first flying lessons in college, gave up due to lack of money, but got back into it after becoming an established film star.
He has been the owner of several planes, from two-seat bush aircraft to corporate jets.
Tom Haines of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), who has flown with Ford, told CNN the actor was “a very skilled pilot and very safety conscious,” describing him as “meticulous.”
Last June, Ford broke his leg on the set of the new “Star Wars” movie at Pinewood Studios outside London. Filming began in May last year on the new episode of the iconic franchise, directed by blockbuster filmmaker J.J. Abrams.
Ford is back as smuggler Han Solo, Mark Hamill will return as Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker and Carrie Fisher, 57, reprises the role of Princess Leia.
The veteran actor remains one of the biggest names in Hollywood, in a glittering career stretching back decades.
As well as the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” movies, he has had a string of movie hits — and misses — from the acclaimed “Witness” and “The Fugitive” to the panned “Hollywood Homicide” and “Random Hearts.”