Relativity Media CEO Ryan Kavanaugh watched Harrison Ford make an emergency landing of his World War II vintage plane on Thursday afternoon, a decision that he claims “the best pilots in the world would do.”
On Feb. 5, Kavanaugh, who has his commercial pilot license and flies his helicopter to work daily, walked out of his office that overlooks the Santa Monica airport around 2:30 p.m. Upon exiting, he witnessed Ford make a life-saving decision to follow specific landing protocol for the older aircraft, a choice, he says, that only 1 percent of pilots would have made.
“He literally had five seconds, and 99 percent of pilots would have turned around to go back to the runway and would have crashed. It would have stalled, gone nose-first and crashed,” Kavanaugh told The Hollywood Reporter of Ford’s decision. “He would have minimal damages if the trees were not [on the golf course].”
Kavanaugh said that Ford “did the impossible.” Had he tried to make a 180-degree turn and revert the plane back to the airport landing strip, it would have crashed. “He made the correct turn that the plane was designed for with an engine out.”
Seven people, including Kavanaugh, reportedly watched as Ford’s plane began smoking after take-off. “Harrison did what the best pilots in the world would do,” Kavanaugh said.
The previous aircraft owner, who sold the plane to Ford, was also present when the aircraft experienced problems. “There is one way to land that plane if the engine is out, because it was made for World War Two,” Kavanaugh said the former owner told him. “And it’s exactly the way he did it.”
Ford decided to land the plane on the nearby Penmar golf course instead of turning around to the airport or landing on the nearby freeway, which Kavanaugh remarked was a selfless and intentional decision Ford made so not to potentially crash into civilians.
After making the emergency landing, Ford was taken to the hospital to be treated for moderate injuries. His publicist released a statement Thursday evening: “Harrison was flying a WW2 vintage plane today that had engine trouble upon take-off. He had no other choice but to make an emergency landing, which he did safely. He was banged up and is in the hospital receiving medical care. The injuries sustained are not life-threatening, and he is expected to make a full recovery.”
When asked if Kavanaugh would ever fly with Ford after witnessing the emergency, the CEO said he “would be willing to fly with him anytime.”
“He is a damn good pilot. That’s all I gotta say.”