UPDATE, 6:43 p.m. — National Transportation Safety Board investigator Patrick Jones said the pilot of the crashed plane, who has been confirmed to be actor Harrison Ford, reported a loss of engine power at 2:20 p.m., just minutes after takeoff from Santa Monica Airport.
“At approximately 14:20 the pilot reported a loss of engine power and was trying to return to the airport. It appears that he clipped the top of a tree and came to rest on the golf course,” said Jones, who did not name Ford as the pilot.
Ford was flying a vintage Ryan single-engine plane.
The NTSB investigation could take three to six months to complete, Jones said.
“It is at the very beginning of the investigation. It takes a long time because we want to get it right,” he said.
Ford reportedly suffered only mild to moderate injuries. When asked if a less-experienced pilot may have experienced a different result, Jones said simply: “This pilot was an experienced pilot.”
Carlos Gomez, 39, who lives across the street from the Penmar Golf Course, said he witnessed a group of people in the park pulling Ford from his plane.
“I saw some guys pull the person who was inside the plane out and put him on the ground. When I saw him moving, I thought, ‘Oh good, he’s alive,’” Gomez said.
Several small planes have crashed at Penmar over the years. On Aug. 29, 2011, a Cessna 172 airplane crashed into the backyard of a home near 21st and Navy streets, not far from Gomez’ home. In that accident, the pilot was injured as well as another man who was not a passenger in the plane.
“This is the fifth time I’ve seen a plane crash here and I’m afraid that someday some big jet is going to crash into my house or one of my neighbor’s houses. Just imagine if that happened,” Gomez said.
Gomez said he did not recognize the pilot as Ford. Asked his opinion on the airport, which is less than a quarter of a mile away from his home, Gomez replied: “They should close it.”
(Reporting by Gary Walker.)
UPDATE, 5:17 p.m.– The pilot of a small plane that crashed onto the Penmar Golf Course in Venice at around 2:30 p.m. today was a 70-year-old man who suffered only mild-to-moderate injuries, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Patrick Butler said during a press conference at the scene at around 5 p.m.
Fire and police officials declined to confirm the identity of the pilot, but major news outlets have identified him as actor Harrison Ford, who keeps several small planes at the nearby Santa Monica Airport.
Butler said several witnesses ran to the pilot’s aid after the crash on an unoccupied area of the park between Dewey and 21st streets in Venice.
Officials have not released details about whether the plane was leaving or heading toward Santa Monica Airport, but Butler said federal aviation officials will give a press conference at about 6 p.m. today at the scene.
LAPD Deputy Chief Bea Girmala, who also spoke during the earlier press conference, said police investigators are still seeking witnesses of the crash.
The Argonaut’s Gary Walker is reporting from the scene.
3:38 p.m.– The pilot of a small plane that crashed onto the Penmar Golf Course in Venice at around 2:30 p.m. today has been taken to a local hospital and is in critical condition, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
TMZ is reporting that the pilot is actor Harrison Ford.
No one else was hurt in the crash and the injured pilot is an adult male, LAFD spokesman Erik Scott posted to the department’s Twitter account. Scott and other authorities could not be immediately reached.
Los Angeles and Santa Monica fire officials are on scene, and the federal National Transportation Safety Board will investigate, according to Scott’s posts.
Penmar Golf Course is located off Rose Avenue and is a short distance from the Santa Monica Airport. The airport has referred questions to fire officials.