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FAA Investigating After Harrison Ford Flies Over Jetliner Awaiting Takeoff

Actor Harrison Ford flying his helicopter in 2001 near Jackson, Wyo.
Getty Images
Actor Harrison Ford flying his helicopter in 2001 near Jackson, Wyo.

Noted aviator and actor Harrison Ford flew his private plane over a jet airliner on the ground at a Southern California airport Monday. It's not the first time the Star Wars and Indiana Jones star has had problems landing.

The 74-year-old Ford was instructed to land on a runway at Orange County's John Wayne Airport but mistakenly landed on a parallel taxiway, passing over a Boeing 737 carrying 110 passengers and six crew members.

On a recording, Ford asked air traffic controllers, "Was that airliner meant to be underneath me?" according to NBC News, which first reported the incident.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said the pilot heard and read back the correct landing instructions, according to The Associated Press. Gregor did not confirm it was Ford who was piloting the plane, a single-engine Aviat Husky. The AP reports that he didn't say how close Ford's plane came to hitting the jet on the ground.

No one was injured and the jet, American Airlines Flight 1456, took off for Dallas shortly after without incident.

The FAA is now investigating, which "could result in a simple warning letter to a suspension of Ford's pilot's license," NBC reports.

Ford collects vintage planes and has been flying for decades. According to NPR's Russell Lewis, Ford is "a highly-skilled and highly-rated pilot. He's qualified to fly single and twin engine planes, sea planes, helicopters and he's also an instrument-rated pilot." In 2015, Ford said he owned "eight or nine various types of airplanes," according to NTSB documents posted on AirSafe.com.

Ford reported on a medical certificate application that he had logged at least 5,200 flight hours, according to the NTSB.

He was a 2008 honoree and received the Legends Aviation Legacy Award from Kiddie Hawk Air Academy, and subsequently had an award named after him.

Ford was seriously injured in March 2015 when he crash-landed a restored World War II-era trainer plane on a golf course near the Santa Monica Airport shortly after takeoff. A National Transportation Safety Board report found the crash was caused by a loose engine part.

In 2000, Ford's plane "departed" a runway in Lincoln, Neb., because of a gust of wind, according to AirSafe.com. He was flying a Beechcraft Bonanza which "sustained minor damage," though Ford and his passenger were not injured.

And in 1999 he crash-landed a helicopter during a training flight in Ventura County, near Los Angeles, according to the AP. "Although the helicopter rolled over on its left side, neither Ford or the instructor were injured," AirSafe.com notes.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

James Doubek is an associate editor and reporter for NPR. He frequently covers breaking news for NPR.org and NPR's hourly newscast. In 2018, he reported feature stories for NPR's business desk on topics including electric scooters, cryptocurrency, and small business owners who lost out when Amazon made a deal with Apple.

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