Shortly after he landed a small plane on a taxiway at John Wayne Airport instead of the runway on which he had been cleared to touch down, actor Harrison Ford called the airport tower and called himself a “schmuck,” according to recordings released Friday.The recordings, released in response to Freedom of Information Act requests by various media outlets, were posted online by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Ford — best known for his roles in the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” films — landed his single-engine Aviat Husky plane on a taxiway Feb. 13, flying over an American Airlines Boeing 737 plane that was holding on the airfield.
“I’m the schmuck that landed on the taxiway,” Ford said in a phone call to the airport tower after the landing, according to one of the recordings.
The 74-year-old actor explained that he was “distracted by the airliner that was in movement when I turned to the runway and also the turbulence from the landing Airbus.”
Told by the tower that he would be investigated for a possible “pilot deviation,” which could lead to penalties including a possible loss of his pilot’s license, Ford responded, “I understand. I totally understand.”
In a subsequent phone call, the pilot of the American Airlines flight told Irene Willard, air traffic manager at the airport, that Ford’s plane could have caused a crash, noting that the tail of his plane was 42 feet high.
“You get an idea of how close it was,” pilot Edward Patten told Willard during the call.
Willard told Patten an investigation was being conducted, and air- traffic controllers estimated that Ford’s plane came within 100 feet of the American Airlines jet.
“We know it was definitely not a good position for him to be in,” Willard said.
There were more than 100 people aboard the American Airlines jet at the time. Patten noted during the call that he and his crew members heard the communications between the tower and the pilot of the Husky, which they were looking forward to getting a glimpse of.
Immediately after the landing, Ford radioed the airport tower and asked if the 737 was “meant to be underneath me.” He was then informed that he landed on a taxiway, and after he realized the error, he told the tower, “I understand now,” and apologized.
In 2015, Ford crashed a World War II-vintage plane on a Venice golf course shortly after taking off from Santa Monica Airport. Federal investigators said the single-engine Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR he was piloting lost engine power, then clipped the top of a tree before crashing in an open area of Penmar Municipal Golf Course on Rose Avenue. Ford was hospitalized for several days for treatment of broken bones.
In 1999, Ford crash-landed a helicopter in Ventura County during a training session, according to the Los Angeles Times. A year later, his six- seat Beechcraft scraped the runway at Lincoln Municipal Airport in Nebraska.
— City News Service
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