LOS ANGELES >> Actor Harrison Ford said he was distracted and concerned about turbulence from another aircraft last month when he mistakenly landed on a taxiway at a Southern California airport after flying low over an airliner with 116 people aboard, according to an audio recording released today.
“I’m the schmuck who landed on the taxiway,” Ford told an air traffic controller shortly after the near-miss on Feb. 13 at John Wayne Airport in Orange County. Recordings of Ford’s conversations with air traffic controllers were released Friday by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The 74-year-old actor was told to land his single-engine plane on Runway 20L, but he instead landed on a parallel taxiway. An American Airlines flight was on the same taxiway, waiting to take off.
A video released last month showed Ford’s Aviat Husky plane from behind as it descends toward the airfield where the American Airlines Boeing 737 is slowly taxiing.
“Was that airliner meant to be underneath me?” Ford asked the air traffic control tower as he landed in the wrong spot.
“Oh. I landed on Taxiway Charlie. I understand now. Sorry for that,” Ford said.
In a phone call with an air traffic controller after the incident, Ford said he “got distracted by the airliner” and also mentioned “big turbulence” from another plane that was landing.
The American Airlines flight, with 110 passengers and six crew members, departed safely for Dallas a few minutes later.
When an air traffic controller told the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” star to take his time getting the number from his pilot’s license, remarking it isn’t a big deal, Ford responded: “It’s a big deal for me.”
Landing on a taxiway, instead of a runway, is a violation of Federal Aviation Administration regulations. The agency’s probe of the incident is still underway, spokesman Ian Gregor said Friday.
Ford’s publicist did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon.
Ford, who collects vintage planes, has a long record as an aviator. He has had several close calls and a serious accident in March 2015 when he was injured in his World War II-era trainer. It crashed on a Los Angeles golf course after engine failure.