Actor Harrison Ford, the daring space pilot of “Star Wars” fame, will get to keep flying airplanes in real life after federal officials closed a probe of his latest aviation mishap near Los Angeles without fines or other discipline, his lawyer said on Monday.
Ford, 74, came under investigation after he mistakenly flew his single-engine private plane over an American Airlines passenger jet and landed on a taxiway, rather than a runway, on Feb. 13 at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana.
The Federal Aviation Administration determined at the conclusion of its inquiry that “no administrative or enforcement action was warranted,” Ford’s lawyer, Stephen Hofer said in a statement. “Mr. Ford retains his pilot’s certificate without restriction.”
The actor, who played swashbuckling space smuggler and Millennium Falcon pilot Han Solo in the “Star Wars” film franchise, also was cited by the agency for his “long history of compliance” with FAA regulations and “his cooperative attitude during the investigation,” Hofer said.
Although Ford incurred no penalty, he agreed to undergo voluntary “airman counseling” before the FAA closed the matter, his lawyer said. It was Ford’s second known misadventure in the more than 20 years since becoming a licensed pilot.
In 2015, he crashed a vintage plane onto a golf course near a Santa Monica airport, suffering serious injuries and badly damaging the aircraft. He told investigators then he did not recall the moments before the plane went down.
In addition to interviewing Ford following the Santa Ana incident, investigators examined audio tapes of pilot and air traffic control radio traffic, radar data and a three-dimensional flight analysis.
The actor was alone and at the controls of his Aviat Husky on a landing approach when he errantly flew over a Boeing 737 preparing for takeoff with 116 passengers and crew aboard, then landed his plane on a taxiway parallel to the runway assigned him.
Ford was clearly embarrassed by the gaffe, according to radio traffic, acknowledging to the tower, “I’m the schmuck that landed on the taxiway.”
An air traffic controller assures the film star that the mishap is “no big deal.”
Audio also revealed Ford had apparently been momentarily distracted by an Airbus passenger jet landing just ahead of him.
The FAA declined comment on the case other than saying it had completed an investigation of a Feb. 13 incident in which a pilot landed on a John Wayne Airport taxiway.
Ford has logged more than 5,000 hours of flight time without being subject to FAA discipline, Hofer said.