Ford recovering in hospital after vintage plane crash

Members of the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) operate at the scene where a vintage plane flown by US actor Harrison Ford crashed on a golf course near Santa Monica Airport, Los Angeles, California, USA, 5 March 2015. Photo: EPA/STUART PALLEY

LOS ANGELES - Actor Harrison Ford was recovering in hospital Friday, a day after the vintage plane he was piloting crashed on a Los Angeles golf course.

Ford, an experienced pilot, reported a loss of engine power shortly after takeoff Thursday afternoon from Santa Monica Airport. In a flight communications recording, he was heard telling air traffic controllers, "engine failure; immediate return."

He tried to return to the airport but clipped a tree and crash-landed on the nearby Penmar golf course, National Transportation Safety Board inspector Patrick Jones told a news conference.

Two doctors playing golf witnessed the crash and pulled Ford from the plane, which they feared would catch fire, local media reported. One of the doctors, Sanjay Khuruna, told the Los Angeles Times that Ford was conscious but stunned, asking "Where am I?"

Ford suffered deep gashes to his head, according to witnesses, and underwent surgery for a broken ankle and pelvis, according to a source "close to the Ford family" cited by Los Angeles television station KTLA.

The actor's son, Ben Ford, said on Twitter his father was "battered, but OK."

Experts lauded Ford for managing to crash in one of the few spots in the densely populated area where he could avoid hitting people or homes.

Santa Monica flight instructor Jeff Martin told the Los Angeles Times, that Forde "did the best thing he could have done."

Local residents have campaigned for years to close the airport, saying the potential for crashes like Ford's puts residents at risk. Ford has lent high-profile support to the campaign to keep the airport open.

The NTSB was investigating the cause of the crash, and removed the plane, a yellow and silver 1942 Ryan PT-22 Recruit, to a hangar Friday.

The Oscar-nominated Ford, 72, has appeared in dozens of Hollywood films, and is best known for his starring roles as daredevil space pilot Han Solo in the Star Wars series and swashbuckling archeologist Indiana Jones.

Sapa-dpa

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