Harrison Ford’s Copter Crashes; Actor Unhurt

From a Times Staff Writer

Actor Harrison Ford and his flight instructor walked away from a helicopter crash this weekend in a dry river bed after reportedly taking off from Van Nuys Airport, a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman said.

The mishap took place about 11:15 a.m. Saturday when the Bell 206 JetRanger helicopter carrying Ford and the instructor went down near Lake Piru about 45 miles northwest of Los Angeles, said FAA operations officer Diana Joubert.

The actor has appeared in such cinema blockbusters as both the original “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” trilogies, “Air Force One” and the current “Random Hearts,” which involves a plane crash.


After the helicopter reportedly took off from Van Nuys it headed to the Ventura County site, where it practiced auto rotations when the accident occurred, Joubert said.

Auto rotation is an emergency landing procedure that simulates engine failure. In the technique, the pilot disengages the main rotor blades from the engine. This helps the blades rotate on their own as the aircraft descends, greatly reducing the speed of the fall.

Joubert said it was not clear who was at the controls when the helicopter fell to the ground. But she said the craft sustained heavy damage after coming to rest on its left side.