Harrison Ford involved in close call at John Wayne Airport; FAA investigating

Harrison Ford’s single-engine aircraft overflew a 737 passenger jet minutes from taking off. (Feb. 15, 2017)


Actor and vintage plane buff Harrison Ford had a close call at the controls of a single-engine aircraft when he overflew a 737 passenger jet minutes from taking off and landed on a taxiway at John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident, which occurred midday Monday.

FAA officials did not disclose the name of the pilot, but provided a brief narrative of what happened.


“Air traffic controllers cleared the pilot of a single-engine Aviat Husky to land on Runway 20L at John Wayne Airport Monday afternoon,” FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said. “The pilot correctly read back the clearance. The pilot then landed on a taxiway that runs parallel to the runway, overflying a Boeing 737 that was holding short of the runway. The FAA is investigating.”

Gregor added that landing on the taxiway, rather than a runway, is a violation of FAA regulations.

“Was that airliner meant to be underneath me?” the pilot questioned an air traffic controller, according to a source familiar with the ongoing investigation who was not authorized to discuss details.

Another source familiar with the incident but not authorized to speak confirmed to The Times that the pilot was Harrison Ford. The Aviat aircraft involved is registered to GBH Aviation, a company whose corporate officers include Ford, according to FAA and public records.

Ford, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment Tuesday on the incident.

John Wayne Airport spokeswoman Deanne Thompson would say only that “something did happen yesterday” but declined to elaborate, saying the FAA was investigating.

The close call was first reported by NBC News.


The incident comes nearly two years after Ford crashed a World War II-era plane at a golf course near Santa Monica Airport.

According to a National Transportation Safety Board report on the 2015 crash, Ford advised Santa Monica air traffic controllers of an engine failure soon after takeoff and requested an immediate return to the airport.

Investigators said he then initiated a left turn back toward the runway and struck the top of a tall tree before he came down in an open area of Penmar Golf Course. The NTSB said the wings and fuselage of the plane were substantially damaged.

Investigators later determined the plane likely crashed because of a carburetor problem that caused the engine to lose power.

There have been other flying incidents involving the actor who rose to fame as Han Solo, the maverick pilot of the Millennium Falcon in the “Star Wars” films.

In 1999, Ford crashed landed a helicopter in Ventura County during a training session. A year later, his six-seat Beechcraft scraped the runway at Lincoln Municipal Airport in Nebraska.


Ford’s flying skills over the years have been used in real-life search and rescue missions, including helping to locate a missing hiker and a Boy Scout in Wyoming in 2001. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Assn. named an award in his honor.


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6:53 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details about the FAA investigation and information about Ford’s other aerial incidents.

This article was originally published at 2:45 p.m.