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Harrison Ford is expected to make a full recovery after surviving a plane crash. Facebook

He is well-known for his on-screen heroics, but Harrison Ford is being hailed as a real-life hero after he steered his plane away from a residential area of LA as the aircraft plunged 3000ft.

The 72-year-old's vintage World War 2 solo aircraft crashed into Penmar golf course in Venice California on 5 March after the engine failed mid-flight. A licensed pilot with twenty years of flight experience, the actor quickly realised he would be unable to make it to the runway at Santa Monica Airport. To ensure the safety of people on the ground, he swerved the plane into the golf course.

The aircraft plunged 3,000ft and hit a tree on the way down. While Ford is reported to have suffered a broken ankle and arm and was bleeding heavily as a result of a head wound, he managed to avert disaster.

He risked life and limb by putting it down on the golf course instead of trying to go further to try to get back to the airport. Another 25 to 30 yards and ... I don't want to think about it. He saved several lives.
- Eddie Aguglia, eyewitness

Eddie Aguglia, who was playing golf on the course when the plane went down, told NBC: "Looking at where he crashed and how the plane went down, I'm sure there was a moment where he said ''I'm not going to risk lives, whatever happens, happens. It's going to be just me.'

"He risked life and limb by putting it down on the golf course instead of trying to go further to try to get back to the airport," he added. "Another 25 to 30 yards and ... I don't want to think about it. He saved several lives."

Charlie Thompson, a flight instructor at the airport where Ford departed, told NBC that as a trained pilot, the Star Wars actor would have been known to avoid the residential areas.

"When you have an engine failure as a pilot, you are taught the Number One priority is the safety of the people on the ground," Thompson said. "The golf course is the place where you could land the safest for the local community and making sure he didn't endanger the people in the local area."

No less of a hero than the Hollywood star is spinal surgeon Sanjay Khurana, who in a stroke of good fortune just happened to be playing golf at the time of the crash. He and fellow golfers watched as the plane came down and headed for the crash site where they pulled Ford out of the aircraft.

Khurana said he instantly recognised the actor. "He was stunned a bit. He was moaning and in pain. It was obvious by his face, it was Harrison Ford. I'm old enough, or young enough, to have watched all his 'Star Wars' films. So, it was obvious," Khurana told ABC News.

Harrison Ford
Harrison Ford was piloting the World War 2 vintage plane when it crashed Andrew Siciliano/Twitter

As they noticed fuel leaking out of the World War II-era plane, he and the other golfers pulled Ford from the wreckage.

"We wanted to get him out safely and with the fuel leaking out, I motioned to some of the other folks at the golf course to put dirt on the fuel so it wouldn't combust," he told CBS News. "'I just wanted to get him out safely so that the situation wouldn't erupt into a fire."

Ford's publicist Ina Treciokas said the actor had no other choice but to make an emergency landing.

In a statement, she explained: "Harrison was flying a WW2 vintage plane today which stalled upon takeoff. He had no other choice but to make an emergency landing, which he did safely. He was banged up and is in the hospital receiving medical care."

Ford is now at the UCLA Medical Centre in Los Angeles and is expected to make full recovery. His wife actress Calista Flockhart arrived at the hospital soon after the accident according to the Inquisitr.

While initial reports suggested the actor was critically injured, his condition is now described as "fair to moderate."

As news of the accident surfaced on social media, fans of the actor took to Twitter to express their concerns. Ford's son Ben tweeted a reassuring message saying: "At the hospital. Dad is ok. Battered, but ok! He is every bit the man you would think he is. He is an incredibly strong man. Thank you all for your thoughts and good vibes for my dad."