Harrison Ford crash: NTSB investigator says anytime a person survives an airplane crash is 'a good day'

With the sounds overhead of planes taking off and landing at Santa Monica Municipal Airport, and the wreckage of Harrison Ford’s 1942 Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR on the Penmar Golf Course behind him, National Transportation Safety Board investigator Patrick Jones said the fact that Ford survived his harrowing crash landing was reason enough for celebration.

“Anytime that a human being can survive an accident involving an airplane, it’s a good day,” he told reporters.

Jones said the inquiry into the "Indiana Jones" actor’s Thursday plane crash had just begun.

“I’m not going to jump to any conclusions at this point, we’re going to wait for the evidence to come out,” he said.

“This is an 1942 vintage aircraft,” he added. “A lot of it is old school mechanical. We’ll see what it is. We’ll look at everything.”

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    Jones said the NTSB had not yet spoken with Ford, who is still recuperating from his injuries at a nearby hospital.

    “There will be an attempt to talk to the pilot, because we definitely want to know what he knows,” he said. “When that happens depends.”

    He also said he did not know if Ford had been tested for drugs or alcohol.

    Ford was listed in fair-to-moderate condition late Thursday after his two-seater plane crash-landed on a golf course in Venice, Calif. shortly after he reported engine failure and told air-traffic controllers he was returning to the airport.

    His representative Ina Treciokas said in a statement to FOX411 that Ford "had no other choice but to make an emergency landing, which he did safely." She added that Ford was "banged up" and receiving treatment, but that his injuries were not life-threatening and he is "expected to make a full recovery."

    Ford was the only person aboard the aircraft when it crash-landed. His son Ben tweeted Thursday evening that his father was doing fine.

    Ford took off from Santa Monica Municipal Airport at around 2 p.m. Pacific Time. About 20 minutes later, Ford, 72, told the airport's tower that he was having engine failure and was making an "immediate return." The plane crashed at Penmar Golf Course, about a quarter-mile short of the airport runway, soon afterward.

    Ford was about a half-mile west of the airport and flying at 3,000 feet when he told air traffic controllers that his engine failed, interim Santa Monica City Manager Elaine Polachek said in an email to city officials. She also said that some witnesses reported that the plane hit a tree on its way down.

    "Immediately you could see the engine started to sputter and just cut out, and he banked sharply to the left," said Jeff Kuprycz, who was golfing when he saw the plane taking off. "He ended up crashing around the eighth hole."

    Kuprycz estimated the plane was about 200 feet overhead when it plunged to the ground.

    "There was no explosion or anything. It just sounded like a car hitting the ground or a tree or something. Like that one little bang, and that was it," Kuprycz said.

    Charlie Thomson, a flight instructor at the airport who saw Ford take off, said engine failure like Ford's does not make the plane harder to maneuver. "It just means you have to go down," he said.

    Los Angeles fire officials said that Ford was initially aided by two doctors who happened to be playing golf nearby.

    Spinal surgeon Sanjay Khurana said he found the actor slumped over in the cockpit but conscious, and he saw he saw fuel leaking out of the plane. Khurana and other golfers pulled Ford from the wreckage. Others threw dirt on the fuel so it wouldn't catch fire.

    Gloria Dedios, 43, who lives across street from the golf course, was making juice in her kitchen when she heard the plane crash and the ground shook.

    On the golf course, she saw four or five people helping Ford. Paramedics arrived and asked him to move his head and his arms, which he did. He also was able to move his legs.

    Ford had a cut to his forehead and scraped arms, but it wasn't clear what internal injuries he may have had, Los Angeles Fire Chief Patrick Butler said. "He wasn't a bloody mess. He was alert. He had good vitals," Butler said.

    The plane, a yellow 1942 Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR with stars on its wings, was upright and mostly intact after the crash. No one on the ground was hurt.

    "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 National Transportation Safety Board's investigation into the crash could take up to a year. NTSB investigator Patrick Jones said "we're going to look at everything: weather, man, the machine."

    The airport's single runway sits amid residential neighborhoods in the city of more than 90,000 on the Pacific Ocean. City leaders and many residents advocate closing the airport, citing noise and safety concerns. Other airplanes taking off or landing there have crashed into homes, and in September 2013 four people died when their small jet veered into a hangar and caught fire.

    Ford is cast to play the swashbuckling Han Solo in his fourth "Star Wars" movie, set for release in December. The original "Star Wars" in 1977 made Ford an instant star who later played whip-slinging archaeologist Indiana Jones in four hugely popular movies.

    Shooting on "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" was shut down for several weeks last July after Ford broke his leg during filming at the Pinewood Studios outside London. The accident involved the spacecraft door of the Millennium Falcon, which makes a return in the highly anticipated film.

    Ford got his pilot's license in the late 1980s and has served as a spokesperson for various airline associations. In 2009, he stepped down as chairman of a youth program for the Experimental Aircraft Association.

    His flying made headlines in 2001 when he rescued a missing Boy Scout on his helicopter.

    Nearly a year before, he rescued an ailing mountain climber in Jackson, Wyoming. He has also volunteered his services during forest-fire season, when rescue helicopter are busy fighting blazes.

    The actor has said his rescues "had nothing to do with heroism."

    "It had to do with flying a helicopter. That's all," he said.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.