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CLOSE CALL: Harrison Ford Nearly Hit A Passenger Jet

The famous actor was flying his private vintage plane over a passenger jet airline awaiting takeoff at a California airport on February 13, almost causing a large-scale disaster.

Indiana Jones-ing the real life

As an American Airlines jet was preparing for takeoff, Harrison Ford accidentally landed on its taxiway. Experts say this error might have ended in a terrible disaster, and the actor is likely to face a disciplinary action. Air traffic controllers reportedly directed Ford to land his private plane on a runway. For reasons known only to him, the actor disobeyed, and landed on a parallel commercial aviation taxiway. During this “stunt”, he flew over the 737 passenger jet carrying over 100 people, which was on the taxiway preparing to head to the main runway.

Catastrophe luckily avoided

Experts and aviation experts flagged this incident as “highly unusual and troubling”. Michael Barr, a senior instructor at the University of Southern California Aviation Safety and Security Program said this was a very high-risk situation, and stated that if he stalled, there would have been a catastrophic result.

Still, the pilot wasnt publicly revealed

Aviation experts said that this kind of incident at a major U.S. airport is almost unheard of. Several sources from the FAA identified Ford as the pilot at the controls during this dangerous landing. Even though FAA still did not publicly disclose the name of the pilot, the brief description was provided: “Air traffic controllers cleared the pilot of a single-engine Aviat Husky to land on Runway 20L at John Wayne Airport. The pilot correctly read back the clearance and then landed on a taxiway that runs parallel to the runway, overflying a Boeing 737 that was holding short of the runway.”

“Was that airliner meant to be underneath me?” the startled actor asked an air traffic controller, as we found out from a source that was not authorized to discuss details.

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Barr, who has been a pilot for 23 years, said that once Harrison Ford saw the jet, he never should have landed. According to Barr’s statement, when a pilot sees a large airliner in front of himself at 90 degrees, aborting the landing is the only right choice.

Has something similar happened before?

Airports like John Wayne rarely experience incidents of this sort, thanks to active air traffic control systems. Back in 1991, an error of air traffic control occurred at LA International Airport. On this occasion, a U.S.Air 737 landed on a runway where a commuter plane by SkyWest was taxiing, which resulted in 23 fatalities on the jet and 12 deaths on the smaller airplane.

Then, in 2006, a Continental Airlines 757 mistakenly landed on a taxiway at a New Jersey airport. This incident forced the airport to change the lighting. Safety Board investigation concluded that because of the lighting, the taxiway was brighter than a runway.

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Actor might face penalty

The investigation is still in progress, as the Federal Aviation Administration is looking into this event. Ford, who is now 74 years old, has declined to comment on this incident, in which he clearly violated FAA regulations. If the actor finds himself penalized, he might face reprimand, suspension, retraining or even loss of his pilot’s license. The beloved “Star Wars” actor is now a subject of an FAA investigation because the incident happened while he was at the controls of a single-engine Aviat Husky.

Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the FAA, stated that ‘’any pilot who violates FAA regulations can face penalties ranging from a warning letter to suspending or even revoking the license.” Michael Barr added that FAA will have to do something about this incident, otherwise, it will look like they are giving preferential treatment to a celebrity. On the other hand, there are those who defend Ford. Kurt Knepper, an Orange County aviation attorney, said he hadn’t heard about such an incident at this airport before, but added that distances between runways and taxiways are narrower at John Wayne than elsewhere.

Mr. Knepper, who handles regulatory matters involving pilots for FAA, said the agency could impose penalties, but they prefer corrective actions. Since this is an anomaly for an experienced pilot like Ford, what is most likely to happen, is that the actor will be asked to do some retraining, and he might get administrative probation.

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