LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor Harrison Ford was piloting a World War Two vintage plane that had been restored to a high standard when he crash landed at a Los Angeles golf course after reporting an engine failure, a federal investigator said on Friday.
Moments after Ford took off in his 1942 single-engine plane on Thursday from Santa Monica Airport, he attempted a return landing, clipped a tree and crash landed at nearby Penmar Golf Course, short of the intended runway, officials said.
National Transportation Safety Board investigator Patrick Jones indicated, without mentioning Ford by name, that federal investigators have not yet spoken to the actor, an experienced aviator who was hospitalized following the crash.
Aviation records list the plane as a Ryan Aeronautical ST-3KR plane, which is also known as a PT-22 Recruit.
“My understanding is that it was restored and actually was an award-winning restoral,” Jones told reporters at the scene of the crash, adding investigators plan to soon disassemble the plane and transport it to another site for inspection.
The 72-year-old star of some of the biggest films of the 1980s is expected to make a full recovery from injuries that his publicist said are not life threatening.
Fire officials said Ford, known for the iconic characters of archaeological adventurer Indiana Jones in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and its sequels and of Han Solo in the “Star Wars” franchise, was taken to a local hospital, where he was listed in fair to moderate condition.
Prior to the crash, Ford described a problem with his plane to air traffic controllers on Thursday in a brief recording later released to the media.
“Engine failure; immediate return,” Ford said in a tense voice on the recording, before obtaining clearance to land on a runway.
The crash, which saw the actor’s plane come down a short distance from houses, follows years of complaints by residents in the heavily populated beachside community that the airport interferes with their quality of life.
Spine surgeon Sanjay Khurana told ABC News in an interview that aired on Friday that he had been playing golf when the plane came down on the course, and that he came to Ford’s aid.
“My task, if you will, was to get him out of the airplane in a somewhat urgent manner because the fuel was leaking,” Khurana told ABC News.
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Lambert