Harrison Ford is very lucky to be alive after crash-landing his World War II-era airplane onto a golf course. The 72-year-old star was hospitalized after on Thursday after he lost engine power, and he is expected to make a full recovery.
According to an eyewitness speaking to NBC News on Friday, Ford “saved several lives” by avoiding crashing his plane into a densely populated suburban area.
“Looking at where he crashed and how the plane went down, I’m sure there was a moment where he said, ‘I’m not going to risk lives, whatever happens, happens. It’s going to be just me,’” said Eddie Aguglia, who was golfing at the time of the incident. “He risked life and limb by putting it down on the golf course instead of trying to go further to try to get back to the airport. Another 25 to 30 yards and… I don’t want to think about it.”
If this is the case, then this wouldn’t even be the first time that Harrison Ford has rescued someone while piloting aircraft.
In July 2000, Ford helped save a dehydrated hiker in Idaho Falls. The actor, who was volunteering his services and his Bell 407 helicopter to local mountain rescuers and the sheriff’s department, received a call regarding a 20-year-old hiker named Sarah George. She had been on a five-hour climb of Table Mountain when she nearly collapsed. A fellow hiker phoned for help, which brought none other than Harrison Ford to the scene.
“He was wearing a T-shirt and a cowboy hat,” George told the Associated Press at the time. “He didn’t look like I’d ever seen him before.”
Before reaching the hospital, the sick hiker vomited into an EMT worker’s hat while onboard Ford’s helicopter. “I can’t believe I barfed in Harrison Ford’s helicopter,” George remarked. (She later told the press that she would, out of gratitude, watch any movie that he made from then on.)
The next summer, Ford was out once again saving people via aircraft, pro bono. This time, it was a 13-year-old Boy Scout named Cody Clawson who got lost in Yellowstone National Park. Ford found the boy shivering and hungry, having spent the night alone in the rain.
“Cody said the kids [in his Boy Scout troop] asked if he got an autograph and he said, ‘No, but I got a hug and a handshake, and that’s better than an autograph,’” Clawson’s mom told the AP.
Ford’s love of aviation has also taken him to Capitol Hill. In 2013, he joined members of the House General Aviation Caucus to discuss “issues of importance to the general aviation community.” In 2011, he stopped by the Senate General Aviation Caucus during discussions on jet fuel and tax burden on pilots.
Ford had taken a few flying lessons in his 20s, but didn’t really get into flight training until the mid-1990s.
“I wasn’t sure if at the age of 54 that I still had the capacity to learn something that I saw as very complicated and difficult,” he told Downwind magazine. “I was so identified with what I did for a living, and I enjoy it, have respect for it, and love the freedom and responsibility that acting provides; however, flying gave me the opportunity to create an identity other than Harrison Ford, the actor. I admire the ability to fly and always loved the sound of airplanes and was curious about them.”
Downwind also asked him how much rudder trim was needed on the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars. “That was Chewbacca’s job not mine,” Ford tersely replied. “He handled the rudders.”
Among those relieved to learn that Ford is expected to make a full recovery was Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca. who tweeted the following on Thursday: