Harrison Ford under investigation by FAA for airport incident
The FAA is investigating Harrison Ford after the actor reportedly landed a single-engine aircraft on the wrong part of a Southern California airport, flying directly over an airliner that was preparing for takeoff.
The incident happened Monday at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, when the Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark star brought his single-engine aircraft in for a landing.
The Federal Aviation Administration does not officially release the identity of individuals involved in such incidents, but sources close to the investigation confirmed the details to EW. NBC News was the first to report the story.
The Aviat Husky involved in the incident was directed by air traffic control to land on Runway 20L. The official FAA report indicates the pilot correctly read back the clearance but instead landed on a taxiway beside the runway.
Ford’s plane then flew over American Airlines flight 1546, a Boeing 737 that was stopped just outside the runway, headed for Dallas with a load of passengers.
No one was hurt in the incident, but the FAA will now investigate the reason for the mistaken landing. Ford’s representatives said the actor did not have a comment at this time.
Pilots who violate FAA regulations can face penalties ranging from a warning letter to a license suspension or revocation.
Ford, 74, has a long history as a pilot and has logged more than 5,200 hours in the air. He maintains a number of helicopters, single-engine planes, and even a jet at a private hangar in Santa Monica, California.
In March 2015, the actor sustained serious injuries after crash-landing a refurbished World War II training fighter. A National Transportation Safety Board investigation determined the plane lost power because of a worn-out, malfunctioning carburetor part, which stalled the engine and sent him on a dive into a Santa Monica golf course shortly after takeoff.
There was no requirement to check that piece of equipment, so no one was at fault for the crash.
In an interview in October 2015, Ford told EW: “I’ve been flying for 20 years, and it was a very rare thing to happen. It was a mechanical issue. No fault of the maintenance or anybody else.”
He began flying again as soon as he was physically able. “I got back in the helicopter first, because my foot was still in the cast, my toes were hanging out,” he said. “It was the easiest aircraft to get into [that I’d still] be capable, and safe, to fly.”
The actor was previously involved in a 1999 helicopter roll-over in Santa Clarita, California, just north of Los Angeles, when his Bell 206 JetRanger failed to recover power in time during a training flight, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
Although the crash site was mostly soft sand, the helicopter’s left skid snagged a log and flipped the aircraft over. Ford and his instructor were not seriously injured, and the cause of the crash was ruled to be pilot error. Asked about the crash on Inside the Actor’s Studio, Ford replied: “I broke it.”
Other times, his aeronautic skills have been credited with saving the day.
Ford, who has a home in Jackson, Wyoming, was part of a squad of volunteers who flew over Yellowstone National Park in 2001 searching for a Boy Scout who went missing overnight.
Ford was the one who located the boy while hovering over his part of the grid in the Wyoming wilderness, which made national headlines — although that part aggravated the actor.
“What annoyed me about it all was that I’d pick somebody up off the mountain one day, and two days later they’d be on Good Morning America,” Ford told USA Today in 2008. “I thought, ‘It doesn’t give credit to all the other people involved.’ Suddenly, I’m swanning around as some kind of f—ing hero.”
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