Harrison Ford reported engine failure before crash-landing on golf course

Actor Harrison Ford was injured Thursday when his two-seater plane crash-landed on a golf course in Venice, Calif., shortly after he reported engine failure and told air-traffic controllers he was returning to the airport.

His representative said in a statement to FoxNews.com late Thursday that Ford, who was flying a World War II vintage plane, was « banged up » and receiving treatment, but that his injuries were not life-threatening and he is « expected to make a full recovery. »

Ford’s son Ben tweeted Thursday afternoon that his father was doing fine.

In a communication with the tower at Santa Monica Municipal Airport, Ford, 72, said he was having engine failure and was making an « immediate return, » according to The Associated Press. The plane crashed at Penmar Golf Course, about a quarter-mile short of the airport runway, soon afterwards as he attempted to make an emergency landing. 

Ford was about a half-mile west of the airport and flying at 3,000 feet when he told air traffic controllers that his engine failed, interim Santa Monica City Manager Elaine Polachek said in an email to city officials.

Ford’s plane « apparently hit a tree on the way down, » and in addition to a cut forehead Ford may have broken his leg, the email said.

 « Immediately you could see the engine started to sputter and just cut out, and he banked sharply to the left, » said Jeff Kuprycz, who was golfing when he saw the plane taking off. « He ended up crashing around the eighth hole. »

Kuprycz estimated the plane was about 200 feet overhead when it plunged to the ground.

« There was no explosion or anything. It just sounded like a car hitting the ground or a tree or something. Like that one little bang, and that was it, » Kuprycz said.

Charlie Thomson, a flight instructor at the airport who saw Ford take off, said engine failure like Ford’s does not make the plane harder to maneuver.  « It just means you have to go down, » he said.

Gloria Dedios, 43, lives across street from the golf course. She was making juice in her kitchen when she heard the plane crash and the ground shook.

On the golf course, she saw four or five people helping Ford. Paramedics arrived and asked him to move his head and his arms, which he did. He also was able to move his legs.

 The plane, a yellow 1942 Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR with stars on its wings, was upright and mostly intact after the crash. No one on the ground was hurt.

« I would say that this is an absolutely beautifully executed — what we would call — a forced or emergency landing, by an unbelievably well-trained pilot, » said Christian Fry of the Santa Monica Airport Association.

The airport’s single runway sits amid residential neighborhoods in the city of more than 90,000 on the Pacific Ocean. City leaders and many residents advocate closing the airport, citing noise and safety concerns. Other airplanes taking off or landing there have crashed into homes, and in September 2013 four people died when their small jet veered into a hangar and caught fire.

 Ford is cast to play the swashbuckling Han Solo in his fourth « Star Wars » movie, set for release in December.  The original « Star Wars » in 1977 made Ford an overnight star who later played whip-slinging archaeologist Indiana Jones in four hugely popular movies.

Shooting on « Star Wars: The Force Awakens » was shut down for several weeks last July after Ford broke his leg during filming at the Pinewood Studios outside London. The accident involved the spacecraft door of the Millennium Falcon, which makes a return in the highly anticipated film.

Ford got his pilot’s license in the late 1980s and has served as a spokesman to various airline associations. In 2009, he stepped down as chairman of a youth program for the Experimental Aircraft Association.

His flying made headlines in 2001 when he rescued a missing Boy Scout on his helicopter.

Nearly a year before, he rescued an ailing mountain climber in Jackson, Wyoming. He has also volunteered his services during forest-fire season, when rescue helicopter are busy fighting blazes.

The actor has said his rescues « had nothing to do with heroism. »

« It had to do with flying a helicopter. That’s all, » he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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