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Harrison Ford and Aircraft of Doom

Harrison Ford on the red carpet in 2017. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons | Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0))

Whether it’s piloting Air Force One after it’s been hijacked by terrorists or fighting TIE fighters “a long time ago in a galaxy far far away…,” Harrison Ford and the characters he’s played have had a thrilling and long history of operating flying machines.

Both in his prolific professional life as a president, Harvard professor of archaeology and space cargo pilot and in his personal life as a private pilot, he’s had the opportunity to fly a number of aircraft both fact and fiction. However, it appears that space ace pilot Harrison Ford, while adept at flying the Millennium Falcon has faced some challenges operating small private aircraft in.

Based on his challenges both operating a plane in The Temple of Doom and also most recently at the very real Hawthorne Municipal Airport in Los Angeles last week, it is apparent that Harrison Ford may have some more troubles in the real world than on the big screen.

Here’s a look at some of the challenges he’s faced. And please note, this is strictly referring to incidents that have occurred in his personal life.

Helicopter Crash in 1999

On October 23, 1999, Ford was piloting a helicopter near Santa Clarita, California during what appeared to be a routine training flight. There appeared to be an issue with the helicopter and it ended up dropping 150-200 feet before power returned, though there wasn’t enough time to recover control before the aircraft hit the ground.

As the helicopter skidded across the ground, it hit a log which flipped the aircraft onto its side. Neither Ford nor the instructor pilot was injured.

Windy Day in Lincoln, Nebraska

Over the summer of 2000, Ford had another incident as he was operating a small private aircraft. While landing at an airport in Lincoln, Nebraska he encountered shifting winds that tossed the plane off the runway. Ford and his passenger weren’t injured, though the plane did sustain damage.

Golfing from the Sky

Then again on March 5, 2015, Ford experienced another aviation mishap. He was piloting his Ryan PT-22 Recruit in California. Ford reported an engine failure to air traffic control shortly after take-off and made an attempt to return to the runway at Santa Monica Airport.

That didn’t go as expected, and Ford made an emergency landing on the Penmar Golf Course in Venice, California. Ford was pulled from the plane by bystanders fearing the plane might catch fire.

Ford ended up with a dislocated ankle, broken pelvis and a few other injuries, including a deep gash on his scalp.

Runways and Taxiways

Just a mere two years later came another incident, this time during landing rather than take-off. Ford was up in the skies of California again piloting his own aircraft.

Ford radioed ahead for clearance to land at John Wayne Airport, and he was given clearance to land on runway 20L. However, on approach, Ford mistook the taxiway to the left of 20L as the runway. So as he attempted to land on the taxiway he ended up flying flight above a Boeing 737, missing it by around 80 feet.

This time the Federal Aviation Administration got involved, but the organization later determined that the incident not did warrant revoking Ford’s license.

Rushing Across the Runway to the Museum

Just over a week ago, there was yet another incident involving an aircraft manned by Ford, this time at Hawthorne Municipal Airport. Though everything transpired on the ground, it precipitated another FAA investigation, which is currently longing.

Ford was piloting a small plane and crossed a runway while another aircraft was landing. Though the two aircraft were 3,600 feet apart and there was no danger of a crash, it still is a violation of protocol.

Representatives for Ford told the South China Morning Post that “there was never any danger of a collision” in the latest incident.

Hemal Gosai


  • Hemal Gosai

    Hemal took his first flight at four years old and has been an avgeek since then. When he isn't working as an analyst he's frequently found outside watching planes fly overhead or flying in them. His favorite plane is the 747-8i which Lufthansa thankfully flies to EWR allowing for some great spotting. He firmly believes that the best way to fly between JFK and BOS is via DFW and is always willing to go for that extra elite qualifying mile.

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