Hollywood high-fliers
17-Feb-2017


On Monday, February 13, Harrison Ford, the Hollywood actor, was involved ‘in a near-miss’  at an airport in California, USA. The plane he was piloting, took a wrong turn.

The control tower at John Wayne airport in Orange Country cleared him to land on an airport runway. But he mistakenly landed on a parallel taxiway, passing closely over – and missing - a waiting American Airlines plane with 110 passengers and crew on board.

When I heard this news on BBC radio, I quickly thought of all those other Hollywood bigwigs with interest in flying planes, like John Travolta, Morgan Freeman and Tom Cruise. And how they must be endangering others’ lives, with their leisure-pursuits.

For the less informed, let me add that Angelina Jolie also holds a pilot’s licence, since 2004. She flies a beautiful Cirrus SR22.

While it is really good to know that these Hollywood actors love to fly high, and that they can afford to buy these flying machines, they must ask themselves, is it safe for all others?

What about the danger they could cause? Don’t they spend more time on refining their acting skills, than on honing their flying skills?

The 74 year old Harrison Ford is a certified pilot. But he was involved in several air accidents earlier.

In March 2015, Ford was seriously injured when his plane crashed on a Los Angeles golf course shortly after take-off. But, the actor was, then, praised for his ingenuity in avoiding more populated areas.

Now, apparently, if the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) investigation implicates him in this new mishap, he might lose his pilot’s licence.

Though I admit I, personally, like the actor, I feel that allowing him to fly – in regions where he could harm others, and at his age – would be unwise.

As the character ‘Han Solo’, he flew the “Millennium Falcon Spaceship’ in the Star Wars movie-series. And, he didn’t crash it. But that is reel world. And this is real world.

From thevery first ‘Star Wars’ movie I watched, as a high school student, to the most recent one I saw, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, in which he played an ageing Han Solo with an ageing Princess Leia (played by the recently-departed Carrie Fisher), I’ve always loved that debonair demeanour.

Apart from his acting in the ‘Indiana Jones’ series,  he also inspired us in ‘Air Force One’,  and as ‘Jack Ryan’ in ‘Patriot Games’ and ‘Clear and Present Danger’.

But, can a prolific actor muster enough flying hours to justify a safe piloting of the many aircraft he owns?

I doubt it.

Here’s what I think. He should stay clear, and not present danger, with his pilot games. The air force’s one force he just cannot play with!

Whether he wants to be adventurous Solo, or wants to keep up with the Joneses,  he must remember he shouldn’t endanger ‘what lies beneath’, under his plane.

And, before I conclude, I must definitely mention Rowan Atkinson, our inimitable Mr Bean. Once, when his aircraft pilot suddenly passed out due to a heart attack, Rowan Atkinson seized controls and flew the plane to safety! With absolutely no earlier knowledge of flying! His wife and children were with him, then.

Obviously, the real Mr Bean is not as dumb as he makes us think he is!

But, back to Harrison Ford. I think, we should all say: Take some rest.  Fly no more.

And to all those Hollywood’s magnificent men in their flying machines, and to women too, we should say: Happy Landings! But, not on us, please!


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