Harrison Ford’s plane has close call with 737 at Calif. airport

Harrison Ford (File: CBS)
Harrison Ford (File: CBS)

Actor Harrison Ford was piloting a small plane that flew over a 737 passenger plane with 116 people aboard at a southern California airport on Monday, an FAA source confirms to CBS News.

According to the FAA, air traffic controllers cleared the pilot of a single-engine Aviat Husky plane – believed to be piloted by Ford – to land Tuesday on a runway at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif. The pilot correctly read back the clearance to land on the runway, the FAA said.

However, rather than landing on the designated runway, the pilot landed on a taxiway that runs parallel to the runway, flying over a Boeing 737 that was holding in place short of the runway. The FAA does not know how close the two planes came.

Ford reportedly asked air traffic controllers “was that airliner meant to be underneath me?”

The FAA, which does not identify people involved in accidents, said they are investigating. An FAA source said the incident is believed to purely accidental.

American Airlines says it does want the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board to investigate, reports CBS News’ transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave. Depending on the outcome of the FAA investigation, Ford could receive disciplinary action ranging from a warning letter to a suspension or revokation of his pilot’s license.

The AA 737 was not moving awaiting for cross traffic to clear. There were 110 passengers and six crew members on board.

“This is extraordinarily dangerous,” former NTSB chair Mark Rosenker told CBS News. “Striking a commercial aircraft that was full of gasoline with 100 and some people on it would have created a real disaster.”

Rosenker says an experienced pilot should be able to know the difference between a taxiway and a runway, but it is not the first time this kind of mistake as been made.

A representative for Ford reached by CBS News refused to comment.

An airplane sits on the ground after crash landing at Penmar Golf Course in Venice, Los Angeles California March 5, 2015. “Star Wars” star Harrison Ford was seriously injured on Thursday when the actor crashed his vintage plane on a Los Angeles golf course shortly after taking off from a local airport.  (Reuters via CBS)
An airplane sits on the ground after crash landing at Penmar Golf Course in Venice, Los Angeles California March 5, 2015. “Star Wars” star Harrison Ford was seriously injured on Thursday when the actor crashed his vintage plane on a Los Angeles golf course shortly after taking off from a local airport. (Reuters via CBS)

Ford, 74, who has logged thousands of hours of airtime, has been involved in several crashes over the years. In 2015, he was seriously injured when his vintage plane crash-landed near the Santa Monica Municipal Airport. The Santa Monica Airport Association said the landing was an “absolutely beautifully executed — what we would call — a forced or emergency landing, by an unbelievably well-trained pilot.” He suffered several broken bones and required surgery.

A subsequent report found a problem with the carburetor part led to engine failure in that crash.

Ford crashed a helicopter in the Santa Clarita area during a training flight in 1999 and also crashed a six-seat plane in Nebraska in 2000.

Ford owns several vintage aircraft and once served as the chairman of a youth program for the Experimental Aircraft Association. In 2000, he made headlines when rescued an ailing mountain climber in Jackson, Wyoming, and a year later, he rescued a missing Boy Scout.

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