In recent years, Harrison Ford has reprised his iconic roles of Indiana Jones, Han Solo, and Blade Runner‘s Officer Deckard. But there’s one more impressive title that Ford refuses to retire: pilot. Harrison Ford first began flight training during the 1960s but could not afford to continue. (Lessons were $15 an hour.) So after making it in Hollywood, Ford bought a plane of his own in the mid-’90s and finally continued to learn.
He officially received his pilot’s license at the age of 53. Ever since Ford has been collecting and flying vintage planes. True to his action star persona, Ford has even conducted several rescues! But it’s not always smooth sailing for the Star Wars actor. Ford has been behind a number of air accidents that could have been life-threatening. But this public record of aerial mishaps never seems to keep Harrison Ford out of the sky.
1999: Emergency Landing in a River Bed
During his training in 1999, Harrison Ford experienced a nearly fatal air crash for the first time. But not the last. Ford had been piloting a helicopter with his instructor when he hastily landed in a dry river bed 45 miles northwest of Los Angeles, California. Though details are not exact about what forced the emergency landing. The craft sustained serious damage but both Ford and his teacher were unscathed.
2000: Blown off a Runway
On June 18, 2000, the newbie pilot was operating six-seater plane in Lincoln, Nebraska when his Beechcraft Bonanza was blown off a runway. A gust of wind had hit the craft, forcing Ford to lose control. The single-engine aircraft had minor damage and Ford recuperated in Lincoln overnight.
2001: Harrison Ford Saves a Boy Scout
In 2001, Harrison Ford found and rescued Cody Clawson, a 13-year-old boy scout who went missing in Yellowstone National Park. Clawson had been missing for 19 hours when Ford set out to find him along with a large rescue team. In the end, It was Ford himself who spotted Clawson at the bottom of the hill. He was suffering from dehydration. Clawson, who is now all grown up, spoke of the incident years later:
“The pilot turned round and said, ‘Good morning’…The way he said it reminded me so much of his role of Hans Solo in Star Wars. Then I was like, “Oh my God, Han Solo has just rescued me, how cool is that… I thought I was delirious at first but then realized I wasn’t dreaming.”
2015: Crash Landing on a Golf Course
Harrison Ford was injured in 2015 when after hastily landing his World War II-era two-seater plane onto the green at Penmar Golf Course in southern California. After taking off from the nearby Santa Monica Airport, Ford reported engine failure shortly after chose to crash-landed at the golf course. He emerged from the wreckage with a broken arm and head injuries and was taken away in a stretcher.
Christian Fry, a spokesperson of the Santa Monica Airport Association, called it “an absolutely beautifully executed emergency landing by an unbelievably well-trained pilot”. Meanwhile, Patrick Jones, an investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board investigator, said Ford was “absolutely” lucky to escape with his life.
2017: Harrison Ford Discusses Wildfire Rescue
Harrison Ford revealed in 2017 that during the California wildfires, he volunteers to help. Imagine that moment: a smoky fire, surrounded by chaos and flames. And while nervously awaiting rescue, the hand that reaches out to you from the chopper is Han Solo. (Or Indiana Jones, if you prefer.) Pretty awesome. Although I still might be nervous considering Ford’s crash history.
He told RISING Magazine
“[It’s] just the kind of volunteer rescue work that a lot of people who own helicopters have performed. I’ve been in a position to help lift people out of trouble spots during fires or other mishaps and it’s very gratifying to be able to do that. But I’m no hero. There are a lot of people who risk their lives regularly to fight forest fires in California and in Wyoming or who go into very dangerous territory doing real search and rescue work. I’m not in that league but I try to do my share.”
2017: Lands on a Taxiway Instead of a Runway
Harrison Ford was investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration after landing his yellow Aviat Husky plane on a taxiway at the John Wayne Airport in 2017. Mistakenly taking the taxiway for a runway, Ford flew directly over — and narrowly missed hitting — an American Airlines 737 airliner that was carrying over 100 passengers. (Watch the horrifying footage.) Immediately after the incident, Ford admitted his mistake in a call to air traffic control. “I’m the schmuck who landed on the taxiway,” he reported via radio in his signature snarl.
The movie star avoided real disciplinary action for this serious violation, but he was required by the F.A.A. to complete awareness training.
2020: Ford Crosses a Runway — and Gets Scolded
Even in 2020, the 77-year-old pilot was still flying. And making mistakes. Last spring, Harrison Ford landed at the Hawthorne Airport outside Los Angeles when a tower instructed him, clearly, to wait for another aircraft to make a touch-and-go landing before Ford could taxi across the runway. Ford did not. And was reamed out by the air traffic controller for it. Although there was no danger of a crash according to the F.A.A., Ford’s publicist revealed that the actor did apologize and own up to the mistake.