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Harrison Ford Hospitalized After Making an Emergency Landing

Aired March 5, 2015 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

The day began with the Delta airliner sliding off the runway off the runway in New York, it ends with the wreckage of Harrison Ford's vintage plane, a World war II military trainer on a Los Angeles area golf course and Mr. Ford tonight reportedly in the hospital. The plane went down a short distance from Santa Monica municipal airport where Mr. Ford keeps a number of aircraft. And we have the emergency call between pilot and air traffic control shortly after takeoff and just seconds before the crash.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Immediate request.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ryan 178, (INAUDIBLE). Clear to land.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 178, running three. Clear to land.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you see the last location?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't. It looks like it shortened the runway up.


COOPER: Harrison Ford is an experienced pilot, has flown fixed wing aircraft and helicopters for several decades. Police and fire officials just spoke to reporters. Details on that in a moment from our Kyung Lah who was on the scene.

But first, joining us now is Carlos Gomez who works across the street from the golf course.

Carlos, I understand you heard the crash. What exactly did you hear and then see?

CARLOS GOMEZ, WITNESS: Well, I was inside the house when I heard the tremendous noise and then see what's going on and then I hear a lot of ambulance around. So then we come out on the street and then, I see that plane on the floor on the ground and then I saw some people that was playing golf, trying to pull the iron out of the plane. So I saw when they put the guy on the ground and then he started moving his arm and then his legs. It was like, good, he's alive.

COOPER: So he wasn't standing up immediately. They laid him out on the ground?


COOPER: Were you -- there were some reports of blood on his face. Were you able to see what kind of condition he was in?

GOMEZ: Well, I'm not really sure about it. I don't see no blood at all. And believe me, I was very, very nervous about what happened because this is not the first time. This is the fifth time it happens. And I was pretty nervous about it.

COOPER: And then did you see him being put into an ambulance?

GOMEZ: No, I don't see that. I just saw when they put him on the ground. That's all I see.

COOPER: And the golf course is very close to home, so it could have been much worse. Their home is very close to this golf course, correct?


COOPER: Could have been a lot worse. Carlos, I appreciate you being on.

Joining us, aviation analyst and private pilot, Miles O'Brien and CNN's safety analyst David Soucie. David's new book just out entitled "Malaysia Airlines flight 370; why it disappeared. Life is only a matter of time before this happens again."

Miles, what do you make of this? You know this plane, you know this airport. There have been complaints about this airport before. What do you see is happening here?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: A couple things about the airports. It's been there since about 1919. It is actually historically, a very significant airport, the Douglas aircraft corporation was there for many years. So it's there a long before there were a lot of houses. The houses around the (INAUDIBLE) on the end and there is the (INAUDIBLE).

One of the things you should know about when you take off from Santa Monica airport and nine times out of ten, maybe more than nine times out of ten, you head off to the west because that's the way the wind flows there. And when you take off the thing you do is they tell you to sidestep over to this little narrow golf course, the golf course in question here, in order to reduce the amount of noise that neighbors might be hearing.

So that flying over the golf course on departure is part of the routine there. Sounds like he got in this situation, this Ryan PT22 which is a vintage 1940s World War II trainer. Would have been sitting in the backseat if it was there alone, that's how you fly it solo. It would have been over The golf course anyway because that's part of the routine and as you heard on the radio call, he had an engine out. His engine failed for some reason. He has two choices at that point. He can go straight toward the beach, which is what a lot, in flight school, they tell you go straight it's better than turning because you can glide longer or you can try to turn back and try to make it to the runway. Clearly, he was trying to get back to the runway and didn't quite make it but fortunately in this case he was over a golf course.

COOPER: And wisely maintaining position over that golf course when he was going back. He would have had to jog a bit to actually make the landing, but he wanted to clearly stay over the golf course as long as he could if he did go down.

O'BRIEN: Yes. What I see here is good piloting response. And you know, just listening to that radio call, he sounded like he had his wits about him. It was -- seem very calm under the circumstances.

COOPER: Let's listen to the radio call again.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Immediate request.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ryan 178, (INAUDIBLE). Clear to land.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 178, running three. Clear to land.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you see the last location?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't. It looks like it shortened the runway up.


COOPER: So in the end there, it sounds like he was already down.

O'BRIEN: Right. So you know, Engine out, immediate return, and the tower not fully understanding the situation say, OK, land on 21 which would have been flying all the way down the runway and around and they make it turn which obviously wasn't going to happen.

He had to go back the other direction if he was going to make it. He was trying to make it and didn't quite. So this, you know, the fact that he was sitting in that backseat might have been very important.

I am curious about the fact that there was no fire. You know, obviously, that would be one of the things they'll look into, was it about the amount of fuel on board the aircraft.

COOPER: Other eyewitnesses said and that gentleman we just talk was said he was taken out of the aircraft. Often, they try to get away in case a fire does breaks out.

O'BRIEN: Yes, no signs of that here. So, you know, this is an old radio engine on an old airplane. It's important that they are maintained well. And you know, engines in airplanes do quit when you have one engine, you have to be really at tune to possible emergency landing sites. So they teach you when you learn how to fly right away.

COOPER: And investigators who are on the scene right now.

I want to go to our Kyung Lah who is standing by very close to the aircraft.

Kyung, what are you seeing? What are you hearing?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we're very, very close to this particular plane. I'm probably about 30 feet away and I want to actually give you a closer look of the plane itself from our vantage point which might explain some of the things you and miles are talking about. Take a look right at the very front of the plane. You can see that that top part looks like it's almost been knocked off. Basically when the impact happened, the front of the plane, the nose appears to have been knocked off.

But look at the body of the plane. There is no covering. This is a vintage plane. But it looks like there really was no direct impact on those two seats. If he was seated in the back, that would explain certainly, you know, if there were not very, very serious injuries.

The other thing I want to show you is if we could take a wider look at this. See how small this area is. You can see it's just this one strip of green here. From where I'm standing, it's about 30 feet away. The house that I'm looking at over to my left, they're right across the street. I'm going to have you spin all the way around. And as you look past the media who are here and the live trucks who are here, look at how close that house is.

This is an entire congested area. It's a beach community. The houses are very close together, very densely populated. What you notice when you come back in to this area in the neighborhoods, a lot of these houses have signs that say no jets.

There has been a lot of friction between the community and this particular airport saying that the houses, the golf course, the airport simply too close together. But at least in this case, it's a very good thing that this golf course was right here, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. And we should point out Harrison Ford is actually one of the people who has been petitioning to keep this airfield open as well as some of the businesses that do business out of that airfield.

David Soucie, I'm also just getting some new information into CNN. The tail numbers of the airplane in today's crash provided by the FAA match the tail numbers of planes Harrison Ford has flown in the past. N3578 is registered to MG Aviation incorporated out of Delaware.

You know, David, as Miles was saying, Harrison Ford is an experienced pilot. And I remember he was involved in a hard landing in a helicopter. Because it is not only is he a fixed wing pilot, he also fly helicopters. He was in a helicopter with another pilot while he was kind of in the early days of him practicing flying helicopters. And they had a hard landing. So I mean, he has a wide range of experience with a lot of different aircraft. DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: He really does and he's been a

great proponent for private aviation as well and putting things together. With that helicopter crash up in Wyoming, it's something that was -- it really took some people by surprise because here comes Harrison Ford walking out of the forest.

COOPER: Right. He takes part in search and rescue in the area in Wyoming where he lives as well as many other people are trained in that area to do.

SOUCIE: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. So he is very active in that. But he's also, again, a proponent of aviation. The fact that he has this classic aircraft too and that he flies this thing regularly, what was interesting about this accident as miles pointed out is that there was no fire which in this type of aircraft, the fuel cells and the oil tanks are right up front, right in front of the pilot which has created problems in the past. It was an army trainer back in the '40s is when it first started, but only about 160 horsepower. More cars than that have it now. And it only flies about 100 miles an hour as its max speed. So you can fly down to about 60 or 70 miles an hour, still continue to fly. So I think that had a lot to do with the fact that he was able to land in such a small area and have very few actual injuries to his body right now.

COOPER: Miles, I mean, as we are looking at this live picture of the crash, what do you see in that? You said he was sitting most likely in the rear of the aircraft if you're flying solo, that's what you do in this aircraft. But I mean, it does seem like would it have impacted on the ground? I mean, if the engine had gone out, he would have just been kind of coasting?

O'BRIEN: Yes, he would have been gliding in. You know, what I see is the result of a well executed forced landing. That's what that is. It is a forced landing on a golf course that has hilly terrain. So, it's going to do a number on the under carriage, the landing gear. And you know, you're not going to end smoothly but you are going to walk away.

COOPER: The propellers ripped off in that?

O'BRIEN: It looks like it was but hard to say. Of course, it wouldn't have been spinning because you have --

COOPER: The propellers are just in the front.

O'BRIEN: I think that what it is. It's hard for me to see it.

COOPER: OK. It looks like there is one propeller there.

O'BRIEN: Yes. It would be insisted, you know, one blade propeller on a radial engine. And, you know, these vintage planes are, you know, and a person like Harrison Ford who loves aircraft so much, they're labors of love and what you want to do everything you can to keep them flying well. So I imagine it was meticulously taken care of.

COOPER: I want to bring in TMZ's Charles Latibeaudiere. Charles, what's the latest that you are hearing about Harrison Ford's


CHARLES LATIBEAUDIERE, TMZ: Anderson, last we heard about his condition is that it is serious. We don't know any specifics yet about his injuries. There were people on the scene who said that they saw lacerations on his face and that there was some bleeding. We actually have some video that we just got in going up on the site in just a few minutes.

But, you know, you touched on something that I think is interesting that there was no flame. They are, clearly, were not too concerned about any explosion or anything because we have video of them, paramedics tending to Harrison on the scene. And there were probably, I don't know, 20, 30 yards away from the plane. Not that they got too far away. And he looked OK on the ground. You know, his feet were up. And you know, his knees were bent. And this looks like they tried to put a brace underneath him to transport him to the ambulance. So there wasn't a lot of concern about explosion and I think that's interesting. What was the situation with fuel on the plane?

COOPER: Right.

LATIBEAUDIERE: The other thing you are going to see in this video is just how close he was to these houses. And really, you know, I have just spoken to a couple of friends who were actually were at Santa Monica airport when this went down. And they said this is nothing short of heroic. I mean, he was so close to homes and clearly targeted this spot on the golf course because there are homes right next to this golf course. So for him to find this spot on the course to land and avoid homes is really what I've been told that said was heroic work on a pilot, a very experienced pilot.

He was probably less than 10 seconds away from the runway, also. I mean, it was, you know, less than a mile from the runway. So, almost made it back but, you know, clearly once he decided, he wasn't going to make it, found that spot. It was -- I imagine had to choose either this is going to this spot or someplace between there. And the runway and that meant hitting houses.

COOPER: Charles, I appreciate you telling us what you know. Thank you. We'll look for the video. Harrison's son, Ben Ford, just tweeted and I quote "at the hospital. Dad is OK, battered but OK. He's every bit the man you would think he is. He is an incredibly strong man. Thank you for your thoughts and good vibes for my dad."

In a situation like this, when we heard his voice in that recording, I mean, he sounds tense but obviously in control.

O'BRIEN: Yes, he's a great pilot. I mean, you know, I've had the good fortune to meet with him and talk with him quite a few times about our shared love of aviation. He lives, embraced it. He loves it. I mean, he's a student of aviation. He understands what he is flying and how he was flying. He makes it a point to be the best at it. So he is as good as stick as you get in this world as we say among pilots. COOPER: That's a good as stick.

O'BRIEN: Good as stick.

COOPER: Miles, David, we've got to take a quick break. We have more to talk about when we come back as this story continues to unfold. We will be joined by a pilot who has flown with Harrison Ford.

Also tonight, what we are learning about the airliner that slid off a runway here in New York. I mean, talk about a scary experience for those passengers. Talk to passengers who live through it. What they have to say about the icy arrival. Look at how close it came to the icy waters just off the runway. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Welcome back. We are looking here at the wreckage of Harrison Ford's vintage plane on a golf course, just a block away from a residential neighborhood just a few seconds flying time from Santa Monica municipal airport. His son, Ben Ford, just tweeted quote "at the hospital. Dad is OK, battered but OK. He's every bit the man you would think he is. He is an incredibly strong man. Thank you for your thoughts and good vibes for my dad."

Mr. Ford reportedly hospitalized in fair to moderate condition. Joining us on the phone, another eyewitness, Jeff Irwin.

Jeff, what did you see and what did you hear?

JEFF IRWIN, EYEWITNESS (via phone): We were on the fifth floor and we saw the plane taking off. We heard it. We looked up, beautiful plane with stars and stripes underneath and then we heard the engine start to sputter and die. And just as that happened, we saw the pilot starting to turn back toward the airport. And it was clear to us that he was just gliding then and he wasn't going to make it. We thought maybe he would land on the fare way but we saw just disassemble the tree line for our perspective and then we just heard a loud boom. And plane must have crash at that point.

COOPER: And did you see anything after that or was that when you lost sight of it?

IRWIN: That's when we lost sight of the aircraft. Later, we saw the actual plane and it looked as though the landing gear had collapsed and it landed flat on the ground. So he must have pulled up and then hit the trees and then just the plane just fell. But fortunately, he didn't hit the street or any pedestrians or any of that. So that was good.

COOPER: When you saw the plane coming back, was the landing gear down, do you remember?

IRWIN: As I recall, the landing gear was down or still down. I don't know if on that airplane, if the landing gear actually goes up into the craft, but yes. It was down, and we could see, it was just very obvious that this was not going to be good. So I'm super glad that he's OK, relatively speaking.

COOPER: Yes. And it's an amazing thing that -- I mean, given the area, given the closeness to some of these homes as you well know from playing on this. I mean, you just think about how it could have been so much worse not only for Mr. Ford but obviously for anybody else in that area.

Jeff, I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us. Thank you very much.

Joining us now also on the phone is Tom Haines who has flown with Harrison Ford. He's editor in-chief of the Airline Owner and Pilots association monthly magazine, Pilot.

Tom, thanks for being with us. As I said, you have flown with Harrison Ford. What kind of a pilot is he?

TOM HAINES, FLEW WITH HARRISON FORD (via phone): Harrison is a very meticulous pilot. I have flown with him in his helicopter. And the day I flow with him, he did the most thorough preflight of the helicopter I've seen anybody ever do on a helicopter. And I know he routinely goes for recurrent training on a very frequent schedule and just (INAUDIBLE). He knows he has a very high profile and he's very careful about that and does all the right things.

COOPER: He began -- he got his license in 1996 flying mostly out of Wyoming and Teoderboro (ph), I understand, flying in assess now. But since then, he has been raided in a whole bunch of different type of aircraft. Do you know how often he flies, typically?

HAINES: He flies very frequently. He's got quite a number of airplanes. Many of them, several of them are from the World War II era like the Ryan PT 22 and he flies them all on a regular schedule, maintains a lot of proficiency in them.

COOPER: It's also amazing to me that he's not only rated in fixed wing aircraft but also in helicopters. How common is that for somebody to have multiple certifications like that?

HAINES: A number of people or (INAUDIBLE) pilots who also have helicopter ratings is rather small. It is probably about five percent of the pilot population that has fixed wing and motor craft ratings.

COOPER: And the amount of time that you need to get that kind of certification. I mean, how often does -- how long a process is it?

HAINES: Well, getting a helicopter rating on to fixed wing certificate is a pretty lengthy process. You have to be dedicated and very committed to it and spend a lot of time to it. And I know that he has. And the helicopter that he flies is a very sophisticated helicopter. And so, it's not just a training helicopter. It's a twin turbine, so he's very committed.

COOPER: Tom, one of the things I had read about him is that when he was in college, he had dreamed of getting a pilot's license but he didn't have the money at the time. And he said at the time, it cost about $11 to hire an instructor back then and it really wasn't until he became successful later in life, I think he was 52 or 53 when he actually was able to first get that pilot's license back in 1996.

HAINES: That's correct. He actually had a business jet he used for personal transportation. And it was his pilot in the, one of the pilots in the jets that he tapped to be his flight instructor and paid for the pilot to become a flight instructor so that he can teach Harrison to fly and they've had a lifelong friendship ever since and fly there routinely and they're close pals.

COOPER: It's also amazing to me that he's taken part in search and rescue operations in Wyoming where he has a house, as many people do in that region who are certified to fly. But that he's, you know, been actively engaged in search and rescue operations.

HAINES: Yes. And he has. He's also, he flew one of his airplanes to Haiti after the earthquake and transported doctors down there and supplies and was very involved in the humanitarian mission and, as you point out, he has done search and rescue and is involved in other ways in using his airplanes to help folks.

COOPER: Do you think he'll continue to fly? I mean, obviously this kind of thing can happen to anybody. In your experience, when somebody has an incident like this, do they keep at it?

HAINES: Well, I'm sure there are some people who drop out but I'm sure Harrison won't. He's very committed to aviation. He loves to fly. And he'll be back in the cockpit. I'm certain of that.

COOPER: Tom, I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us. Again, certainly know a lot of people are very concerned about Harrison Ford and amazed to see, and thankful he was able to essentially walk away from this.

Continue to be here with Miles O'Brien and David Soucie.

Is it common, Miles, for somebody at age 52, 53 to actually seek out and get their license? I mean, you think of it more as something that somebody does when they're perhaps younger.

O'BRIEN: Well, you know, if you think about the group of people we're talking about, people who are, you know, type a, motivated and successful enough to afford the bill actually are more than you would think who come to it later in life because have a lifelong dream for it, they have another career that keeps them busy and then eventually puts them in a position where they can afford to do it. So, it is actually a little more common than you might think when you are talking about people who fly in the general aviation world.

COOPER: David, again, you know, I keep coming back. We have that tight shot there of the aircraft, but when you look at how close houses are to this golf course, to this Santa Monica municipal airport. This could have been so much worse not just for Harrison Ford but people who live in houses and buildings nearby.

SOUCIE: Yes. It's very true and there has been a lot of pressure on this airport to alleviate. As Miles pointed out, when you take off of this airport, you have to stay over the runway. I mean, over the golf course, excuse me. But what's happening all over the country is the encroachment on the airports by the growth and so it's become a problem more than just this airport but many airports.

COOPER: David, you know, you investigate crashes. We see, it seems like a relatively, I mean, of the plane crashes we see, it's often small aircraft. Is that simply a numbers game of how many there are out there? Why is that?

SOUCIE: No, actually, there is a higher percentage of crashes in private pilots and private aircraft. Just simply because of the fact there's more, that's true, but the way they operate, the area they operate, and there is a level of experience that hasn't been met yet. Remember, most of the pilots in commercial aviation start as private pilots in small airplanes, so that's where the training ground is. So you would expect to see a little bit higher percentage of accidents in private aircraft handling and where they go and how they're used.

But as far as hazards to people on the ground, I think that's where we have to be very careful about where we take off, how we take off and how we do these training maneuvers. And there are regulations about that and where you can fly and when you do takeoff and landings when you're doing training.

COOPER: You know, Miles, often we see a vintage aircraft like this at an air show. How much maintenance is required on something like this versus, you know, a modern day Cessna or a modern day aircraft that a private pilot may fly?

O'BRIEN: Yes. These things are bottomless pits of money. You really have to love them and want to care for them.

COOPER: And it's like a classic car, except more complex than that.

O'BRIEN: Exactly. And some of them just, you know, you can spend well into the seven figures getting these planes back into flying condition because in many cases --

COOPER: Are they using old parts that are rehabbed?

O'BRIEN: A lot of times, you have to get the machine.

COOPER: You have to make new parts.

O'BRIEN: You have to make parts. It is just like anything. So, this is, you know, there is, you know, just like anything, there is a world out there of people who fly old war birds like these, who trade, you know, information and find bone yards or he get spare parts. But in some cases, you've got to make the part. And so, it's you need to find somebody who's a good craftsman, understands it and has an appreciation for the technology of the 1940s and can be true to it and keep it safe.

COOPER: Joining us on the phone is Paul Mitton who shot some of the flying video from the documentary, Harrison Ford, just another pilot. It's interesting. I mean, I love the title of that documentary, just

another pilot, obviously, for a lot of civilians, he may not be that way. But in the flying community, that's how people view him, Paul.

PAUL MITTON, VIDEOGRAPHER, JUST ANOTHER PILOT DOCUMENTARY (via phone): Yes. It's correct. (INAUDIBLE), the video actually came from Harrison. He likes the anonymity of being a pilot and just calling in on the radio as the airplane call number and not who he is. And he can get away from the crowd and the craziness and eventually, the refuge of the air, looking down at the God's eye view of the world.

COOPER: And that's the appeal you think for him and also for other pilots? Because I have never -- I mean, I've flown in a lot of small planes like. I'd never quite understand what the enjoyment is for the pilot. I mean, what seemed to be a stressful thing, is it actually relaxing?

MITTON: Well, it can be. I mean, once you get above the traffic pattern and get up and look down at the world and see how beautiful it is, it's definitely relaxing. But, you know, it's also challenging dynamic environment. You've got the winds blowing you around. You've got to stay on course. You've got to manage your fuel, which is a reason why a lot of planes don't land where they're supposed to land because they don't manage their fuel correctly. But Harrison has been a great pilot and you can see by the fact that he survived this forced landing that he is a skilled aviator.

COOPER: A landing like this, Paul, in the hands of a less experienced pilot, it could have gone a lot of different ways, right?

MITTON: Sure. I mean, just looking at the crash site. You see the trees nearby. There's a tree not too far behind the aircraft and had the wing click back. The airplane could have spun around, been ejected, ended up upside down. That would have been nuts. So there was a plane crash in Orlando on the edge of the golf course and unfortunately, they ran to a powerful on the edge of the golf course on the road and one of the pilots was killed. So, in this situation, I think they did an extremely good job of getting the plane on the ground. Any landing you can walk away from is a good one.

COOPER: Listen, I appreciate you, Paul, talking to us. Thank you so much and also, it's fascinating to see the video that you shot as part of your documentary, "Harrison Ford: Just Another Pilot." In that picture that we were showing there, Miles, you see a pilot and a co- pilot. This Harrison Ford was solo, and you point out he would have been sitting in the rear of the aircraft.

O'BRIEN: Correct. That's, on the PT-22 if you're solo, you're in the rear seat, that might have helped in this case. You know, he - I think what we saw there, just listening to the radio call, I'm just so proud of him, you know. He just - he really nailed it. He was clearly focused. He's working on a problem. He corrected the tower when the tower said, well, we'll send you a round of 21. He said, no, I'm coming in on 3. And that's exactly how the pilot should have handled that situation. He found exactly the right spot and he did walk away. He's banged up, but he will fly another day and he'll probably fix that airplane. And no one else is worse for the wear. When people take this as an opportunity to say shut down an airport, I say when there's a wreck on the Santa Monica freeway, do you say shut down the interstate? I mean, you know, that's the same logic.

COOPER: In flying an aircraft like this, which is open to the elements, I mean I assume that adds both another level of enjoyment for the pilot because you're actually out in the elements, it doesn't make it more difficult as well?

O'BRIEN: No, it's just a thrill. It's just a complete thrill to be out there. And, you know ...

COOPER: Because you are feeling the wind on your face, that sort of thing?

O'BRIEN: Yeah, the wind is going by. There's no better view than when there's no window separating you and the world and there's nothing- there's no better thrill than to be doing aerobatics in an open cockpit. That's pure joy. You know, you talk about why people do this, it is relaxing in a different way to the extent that it is completely engrossing and taxing. For me, it clears off every other thing because if I'm not focused on surviving that flight, landing that plane well, I'm not going to make it and so that to me is a great relaxer.

COOPER: You're fully present in a way that nothing else can really interfere because you're so present in the mechanics of, you are so present in the mental aspects of it.

O'BRIEN: Yeah, it focuses you to be present in the moment. There is the thrill of doing it, but there is a mental and physical mastery and a sense of engrossing focus, which makes it pure joy and in the end, ultimately, a relaxing thing. You don't take it lightly. It's not relaxing like you're lying on the couch watching TV, but it is a form of relaxation, I think.

COOPER: And again, Harrison Ford's son, as you see on the screen here had tweeted out saying his dad is OK, battered but OK. Miles and David, we need to take a quick break. When we come back that Delta Airlines jet that arrived at LaGuardia Airport at the runway nearly slid into the water. In the picture you are seeing there, you don't get a sense of how close the water is. We'll show you from another angle, it is scary stuff, indeed, for the passengers on board of that plane. Details ahead.


COOPER: The breaking news tonight, Harrison Ford in the hospital with injuries from an emergency landing he made just after takeoff from Santa Monica municipal airport near Los Angeles. Now, we've been talking about the kind of pilot he is. Here's a sample from the documentary "Harrison Ford: Just Another Pilot."


HARRISON FORD: I'm a pilot. (INAUDIBLE). But my duties and responsibilities are, everything else just kind of falls away. That's very restful for me. To see little towns, little airport. The people at those little airports. Talk about flying, learn (INAUDIBLE) and the scope of it, but that's the history of the country, the way it grew up. And it's beautiful. 8,500 feet. Over Briley, Idaho. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon.


COOPER: Not a bad way at all, except today it did go badly very quickly shortly after he took off from Santa Monica municipal airport. I want to show you the tweet that his son has sent out at the hospital, "Dad is OK, says Ben Ford. Battered, but OK. He's every bit the man you would think he is. He is an incredibly strong man." Back now with Miles O'Brien and David Soucie. And I want to play for our viewers who are just joining us, the call, the emergency landing call that Harrison Ford made to the control tower. Let's listen in.


HARRISON FORD: 53178. Engine failure. Immediate return.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ryan 178, 1821. Clear to land.

HARRISON FORD: Got to go to 3.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 178, running three, clear to land.

HARRISON FORD: Did you see the last location?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 3, didn't look like it was short of the runway by the VOR.


COOPER: As Miles talked about earlier, initially, when he calls in, the people in control tower are telling him to go around to a runway 21 or 2-1. And then it's up to the pilot to say, that's not going to happen. Runway three. Is that what went on there? I can't hear David Soucie. Miles O'Brien, is that what happened here?

O'BRIEN: Yes, precisely what happened. You have two choices. When you, you know, on takeoff, you lose your engine. What are you going to do? And you drill this all the time. When you are learning how to fly. Where are you going to go? What are you going to do? You should always be thinking about that, particularly in the critical period of time, you know, - about your land or take off. And one of the things he could have done is gone straight and headed for the beach. He might have had the glide capacity on the beach but that's one of the most crowded beaches in the world, who knows what might have presented itself there to him. He's over a golf course. He knows that is a safe place. He turns his airplane around and says I'm going to try to make it back to the runway, which is the reverse, the reciprocal of the runway he just took off on. And he knows as a pilot if he can't make it to the runway, he's got the golf course. So, in a split second, he made every right decision you could imagine as a pilot. And on that - that was textbook communication. He was clear, he was concise. He was very obvious what his intentions were and the tower understood what was going on.

COOPER: It's interesting, Miles. Because, you know, when somebody at his level, when you're working for, you know, major motion picture company and you have contracts, CEOs sometimes have to sign contracts that limit what they can actually do that might put themselves at risk. What kind of vacations they can take in terms of where they can go or how they travel, or they have to travel, you know, they have to have a copilot with them if they're a pilot. It's interesting that despite all his success and all the projects, high level projects he's involved with, he must work this out so he's still able to fly.

O'BRIEN: Yeah. You know, I interviewed him years ago. He was talking about, I forget, which movie he was talking about, it was back when I was doing the morning show here and we had a conversation in the green room before and we were talking about his flying. And I said, so, you know, how do you work it in? He said I put it in my contract.

COOPER: Is that right?

O'BRIEN: Yeah, he said, I insist and the studio has to go crazy about it and insist I have a pilot with me, but if I'm going to fly on this tour, he was in the middle of a tour promoting a movie, I'm going to go on my citation, but they, you know, they insist I have a second pilot with me. In general, flying jets like that, there are few that are single pilot. It's frankly a good idea to have a second pilot with you anyway especially when you're trying to make a deadline as it were, but he made that a part of his deal every time.

COOPER: To my understanding too is where he got his helicopter license, as we mentioned earlier. It was actually while shooting a film in Hawaii. The only way to apparently get to the set was to fly a helicopter and obviously there was a pilot flying it, but he started becoming interested in learning how to fly a helicopter then and actually by the end of the film shoot from what I've read, he already had a certain number of hours in the, at the controls with obviously the copilot there.

O'BRIEN: Yeah. I mean, you know, what a great -- I can attest to this, if you can combine your passions for aviation with what you do for a living, you are in great shape, that's a good place to be. And he managed to pull that off.

COOPER: I don't know if we still have David Soucie, but if we do, I'm interested, David, in the kind of investigation that we see investigators now on the scene and Kyung was reporting that at the top of this hour. What kind of an investigation goes into this as compared to what we see on obviously a larger aircraft?

SOUCIE: Well, what's happening right now is if there's a local NTSB investigator, they'll come out there first. If the NTSB is not available, if they are on the go team for another accident, which they probably are right now, then the FAA is delegated to the FAA and the FAA inspectors, which is the position I had, will go out and they'll start looking to see what happened. What they're looking at right now is the angle of attack, where the aircraft hit the tree before it fell. But mostly, what they're looking for is if the fuel cells were full, what positions of the switches are inside the aircraft right now. They're looking for things that might indicate why the engine failed already.

Subsequent to that, the aircraft will be taken, but the engine specifically will be taken to look at, to see if there is something inside the engine that caused this to happen. And then the interview with the pilot, of course, as well. As soon as he's healthy enough to do that, he'll be able to tell us what happened, of course.

COOPER: David Soucie, thank you very much. Miles O'Brien as well. We're going to continue to follow this through the evening. We are live until the 10:00 hour tonight. I do want to show you some live pictures from New York's LaGuardia Airport right now. Cranes now surrounding a Delta airlines jet, preparing at some point, we don't exactly know when, to hoist it off an embankment just short of the water. Delta flight 1086 with 132 people on board, which slid off LaGuardia's runway 13, early today, very nearly into the frigidly ice cold water, frigid ice cold water where New York's East River meets Flushing Bay. We have more now from Will Ripley.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry, we have an aircraft off the runway.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Panic at New York's LaGuardia Airport.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The airport is closed. The airport is closed. We've got a 3-4.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 1200, say again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have an aircraft off three one. (INAUDIBLE). Please advise crash rescue, LaGuardia Airport is closed at this time.

RIPLEY: Just after 11 a.m., Delta flight 1086 is inbound from Atlanta, with 127 passengers and five crew members on board. Just as it comes in for a landing, it skids off the runway sliding for a terrifying 20 seconds before the nose of the plane crashes through a fence. The plane stops just feet from icy waters.

JARED, PASSENGER ON FLIGHT: We felt the wheels hit the runway and we did not feel the wheels take traction and we started to skid. And we skid to the left side of the runway and continue to skid. So we literally were a couple feet away from heading into the water.

RIPLEY: One frightened passenger tweeted "We just crash landed at LGA. I'm terrified. Please." Within minutes, emergency vehicles converged on the scene helping passengers evacuate. Port Authority officials say the plane's emergency slides did not deploy. In this video, you can see people exiting the plane on the wing itself in heavy snow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are getting off the plane, I'm jumping out the window sliding down the wing. They're like, hurry up. Hurry up. I see gas coming out of the wing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's leaking fuel on the left side of this aircraft.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said leaking fuel?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Affirm. His wing is ruptured.

PAT FOYE, EXEC. DIRECTOR, PORT AUTHORITY OF N.Y. AND N.J.: The fuel for a time was leaking out at a rate of a gallon a minute. The leak was stopped.


RIPLEY: At least two dozen passengers were injured and three were taken to hospitals. This video was shot by New York Giants tight end Larry Donnell, who was a passenger on the plane. He wasn't hurt. The MD-88 Delta jet had briefly circled La Guardia due to the snowy icy conditions before it was cleared for landing. Airport officials say the runway was plowed just minutes before and that two planes recorded good braking action shortly before the incident. For now, passengers are reeling from the close call.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm still in shock. I mean it's really starting to hit me as I watch the footage, it was a frightening experience.


COOPER: No doubt about that. Will joins me now from LaGuardia Airport. This is one of the busiest airports in the country. What officials there have been doing to get it back up and running? I assume right now, is it up and running?

RIPLEY: It's only partially up and running, Anderson. There's only one runway allowing limited departures and arrivals. The airport has really been limping along since this happened. You see the work that's happening on runway 13, those two hydraulic cranes trying to lift up the plane, turn it around, take it into a hangar. We know the NTSB was here recovering the data recorders and there are so many passengers I watched around the terminal who are - essentially camped out looking at the screen wondering if they'll make it out of here tonight or if they'll have to spend the night here. A lot of flights, and not only here in the New York area, but all over the country impacted by this, Anderson.

COOPER: Yeah. Incredible. Will Ripley, thank you very much. Joining us now is a passenger, Steve, Blazejewski. Steve, first of all, how are you doing? I'm sure you didn't start out the day thinking you were going to end up, you know, here talking about your flight. How are you?

STEVE BLAZEJEWSKI, PASSENGER ON FLIGHT: Thank you for asking. I'm actually doing great. I'll confess to being very shaky after we stopped the plane initially, but took some time to settle down and after deplaning, we hopped on emergency buses, went to the sky club for Delta and had a chance to sort of relax and decompose a little bit. And, you know, since then, I've been doing fine. Thank you for asking.

COOPER: I got to imagine. It's one thing to go through an experience like this, but then to suddenly see how close you came to that plane ending up in the water. When you saw it from that angle, what went through your mind?

BLAZEJEWSKI: Well, it was interesting. I was actually on the left side of the plane, which is the water side and the exit row basically, right over the left wing and I would say that a lot of the pictures in the footage is actually deceptive because as we hit the ground, we started to veer off to the left approximately may be 10 to 20 degrees off to the left side and I was watching the water get gradually and gradually closer to the plane and I said to myself at one point that we were going to be going in.

COOPER: Oh my gosh.

BLAZEJEWSKI: So, it was actually a very harrowing moment. I thought back to the plane that crashed in the Hudson River several years ago and started thinking about, obviously, your family and think about what we're going to do when the plane goes in the water.

COOPER: I mean that's - and you always hear in the safety when they talk about a water landing. And I always hear that I think, you know, first of all, water landing makes it sound kind of nice and normal. There's nothing normal about that. I know you fly a lot. When did you realize something was wrong?

BLAZEJEWSKI: I would say as soon as the wheel hits the ground. As the other passenger said and he was actually sitting across the aisle from me. I did remember him. As soon as we hit the ground, you could tell that there was not a good landing. We bounced a little bit. The plane started to shake a little bit and we started to really, I would say, vibrate and tremor as you might see in the movie, for example and as I said, we started veering off to the left and it was pretty obvious that we were having some difficulty and even after they applied brakes, and we were - it just wasn't taking.

COOPER: And how - I mean what, you know, what length of time are we talking about from the moment wheels touched down to the time, you know, the plane came to a stop? Do you have a sense of how long the whole thing went on for?

BLAZEJEWSKI: Difficult to tell. I mean, I would say it was probably 10 to 20 seconds. If you look at the aerial shots, we were about half a way, half of the way or two-thirds of the way down the runway and I think that would probably take 10 or 20 seconds to do.

COOPER: And were people calm once the plane stopped? Was it chaos? Because those chutes didn't deploy off the wings like they're supposed to, it seems.

BLAZEJEWSKI: I would say that people were remarkably calm. All the passengers were calm. There was not a specific announcement as to brace for impact or anything like that and I would say that the flight attendants did a great job keeping people calm and actually kept people off their cell phones, which was probably a good thing. Made the proper announcements, and as emergency vehicles came up, we ended up opening the emergency door that you hear about every time you fly, but you never think you're going to use.

COOPER: Just incredible. Steve, I'm so glad you're OK and most of the other passengers as well. Thank you so much for being with us.


COOPER: Just ahead, the dangerous winter storm that's disrupting travel all across the country. Hundreds of cars stranded overnight. I mean take a look at this. Can you imagine being stranded overnight on this Kentucky interstate? We also just learned there's a press conference about the Harrison plane crash that we're going to bring to you soon. We are going to get some new details about the Harrison Ford plane crash, we'll obviously bring you that press conference as it happens. As I say, we are live all throughout the next hour as well to the 10:00 hour here on the East Coast of the United States. Stick with us.


COOPER: We are waiting a news conference on the Harrison Ford plane crash. We'll bring it to you live when it happens. We anticipate the news conference from the NTSB.

More now on the storm that was a factor that Delta jet skidding off the runway at LaGuardia. It's unleashing another round of misery from north Texas to southern England and across the south knocking out power, turning roads, runways, treacherous. Thousands of flights have been cancelled. The storm has dumped more than a foot of snow on parts of Kentucky stranding hundreds of people overnight on two interstates. Stuck in their vehicles. All they could do is just sit around and wait for help. Gary Tuchman has more on the storm's fallout.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in bluegrass country, there is no grass to be seen. This Kentucky winter is one for the history books. And every person and every vehicle on this interstate just south of Louisville is part of this winter's unpleasant history. Hundreds of cars stranded on highways beginning last night, stranded for hours and hours. But drivers hoping they wouldn't run out of gas which would mean no heat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm ready to get on the bridge to go north on 65. So - I'm getting ready to, but it might be a while. Because we're not moving.

TUCHMAN: Police and workers from the state Department of Highways were on the scene, but couldn't do much because of the combination of snow, ice, hills, and the multitude of vehicles. The city of Louisville started the plowing process when the snow began but couldn't keep up. MAYOR GREG FISCHER, LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY: By the time that we

completed the - it was covered again in snow and it looked like nothing had been done.

TUCHMAN: Lexington, Kentucky, received over 17 inches of snow, more snow than it's ever had over a two day period. The city has had 40 inches of snow this winter. Temperatures overnight expected to go below zero. Other parts of the south hit hard too. Snowy highways and cars stuck in Memphis. Snow covered roadways in parts of Arkansas. In Arlington, Texas, many car accidents after still more north Texas snow and ice. Heading up north where people are more accustomed to the snowy winters, a frightening accident in the town of Port Jervis, New York, right out on Pennsylvania/New Jersey borders. 23 vehicles piling up in the bad weather. Ten people hurt. Fortunately, nobody seriously. And then there's this. A bridge known as the Madison Creek Causeway in Logan County, West Virginia, collapsing, not from snow, but from flood and from melting snow. This video was captured by a resident of the area and posted on Facebook.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Finally come up over the bridge and it took it away in a matter of seconds. When it went, it went in a matter of seconds.

TUCHMAN: And look at this video. Watch what happens to the 18-year- old woman crossing the street. This is Cranston, Rhode Island. This woman getting hit by a car, that was struck by another vehicle on the snowy road. Amazingly, she has been released from the hospital and it's OK. And in Putnam County, New York, a TV news photographer was shooting video of the family cutting wood when this happened. Trees collapsing from the weight of the snow.




TUCHMAN: Meanwhile, this is what it looked like in Washington, D.C. where the federal government for the most part was shut down. As the Nation's Capitol also got hit by what many hope will be the last gasp of a brutal winter. Gary Tuchman, CNN.


COOPER: Brutal indeed. Stay with us for another live hour of "360." Just ahead, more on the Harrison Ford plane crash. We are expecting an NTSB news conference at the top of the hour. We'll bring that to you live right after this short break.


COOPER: Good evening. Thanks for joining us for this extended edition of "AC-360." The breaking news tonight, we are ab out to learn much more, possibly much more about the emergency landing that put piloting actor, Harrison Ford, in the hospital tonight. That's his vintage aircraft on a gulf course near Santa Monica municipal airport. He ran into trouble just after takeoff. Now, we're waiting a news conference from the ANTSB. We anticipate it happening any moment. In the meantime, here's the emergency call that Harrison Ford made to air traffic control.


HARRISON FORD, ACTOR: ... 178 engine failure, requesting immediate return.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arion 178, this is runway 21 clear to land.

FORD: I'll go to three.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arion 178 running three clear to land?

Ford: Sorry, can you say your last location.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the three I didn't -- it looks like there were short on the runway up by BOR (ph).