As Indiana Jones star Harrison Ford recovers in a Santa Monica, California, hospital from injuries he suffered when he crashed the small plane he was piloting into a golf course Thursday, amazing audio has emerged revealing the terrifying moment when the 72-year-old Hollywood icon realized that his vintage, World War II-era plane wasn't going to make it.
But according to aviation experts, the recording also shows Ford as an experienced, cool-headed pilot whose calm, decisive reactions likely saved his own life and maybe the lives of innocent people on the ground as well.
"I would say that this is an absolutely beautifully executed, what we would call a forced or emergency landing, by an unbelievably well-trained pilot," said Christian Fry of the Santa Monica Airport Association.
The recording opens shortly after Ford has lifted his aircraft off the ground at Santa Monica Airport, when the star — who played a United States President who must save his own plane from hijackers in the 1997 thriller Air Force One — suddenly realizes that his plane is experiencing engine failure.
Pilot Harrison Ford then requests permission to return to the airport for an emergency landing — but his 1942 Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR airplane never makes it back.
At one point in the recording, air traffic controllers can be heard instructing another pilot to circle the airport rather than land, as they wait for Ford to return.
"Harrison was flying a WWII vintage plane today which had engine trouble upon take off. He had no other choice but to make an emergency landing, which he did safely,'' said Ford's publicist in an email sent to media outlets Thursday. "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."
Ford had his plane headed back to the airport when he crashed short of the runway, landing hard on the eighth hole fairway of a nearby golf course.
A doctor, Sanjay Khurana, was nearly finished with his own golf game when he saw the small plane collide with a tree and then watched as it "dropped like a rock," Khurana told The Associated Press.
When he reached the pilot who was bleeding badly, he saw that it was the movie star Harrison Ford.
"I'm a child of the '80s," Khurana said later. "I'm a big fan."
Listen to the amazing audio of Harrison Ford telling the control tower that his plane is in serious trouble, above.
[Top Image: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images; Interior Image: Rich Polk/Getty Images]