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Harrison Ford

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

It turns out Harrison Ford is a "very cautious and capable" pilot!

The A-list actor, who has had a passion for flying for a long time, crashed a small, vintage World War II airplane near Santa Monica Thursday but is said thankfully to be "battered but OK." But now some might wonder if the Star Wars star had enough experience to fly such a fragile plane. Well, it turns out he's more than qualified!

Steve Stafford, Ford's former flight instructor and film stunt pilot who has known the actor for 35 years, tells E! News, "Harrison Ford is a professional pilot in every sense of the term. He is rated in Turbo Jets and Helicopters and participates in factory simulator emergency training on a regular basis." 

Stafford, who also produced and directed the documentary Harrison Ford - Just Another Pilot, also says that Ford is such an amazing pilot that he would trust him piloting his loved ones!

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He adds, "He takes every flight he makes seriously and I would trust him with my own family as his passengers today and in the future. The fact that he was able to 'dead stick' the plane back to a survivable landing is a lasting testament to his piloting abilities and his coolness under pressure."

Eyewitness Luis Cruz and his coworkers saw Ford crash his plane into the golf course and tells E! News that it appeared Ford was "flying to keep the plane level and go back to the airport."

But as quickly as they saw the plane in the air, they soon found it on the grass.

"It was about before ten minutes before 3 p.m. We were working on a construction site next to the golf course," Cruz explains. "I saw the plane flying and I saw the plane and thought, 'Oh, that is a nice plane. It is an old plane.' I went inside the house for two minutes and when I came out I saw the plane on the ground on the grass."

"My coworkers, who were outside, saw the plane hit the tree," he adds. "The tree helped him land on the grass."

Almost immediately people ran over to help the then-mystery pilot only to discover a gas leak. Fortunately they were able to get Ford out of the plane.

"I saw about five guys rushing to help the pilot. They were like five guys close to the plane and someone said it is leaking guys and they were pulling him out and at the time we didn't know who was the pilot," he adds. "It took them about two to three minutes to get him out of the plane."

When they pulled him out, Cruz says there was "bleeding from his head" and "a lot" of blood on his face, but the legendary actor was conscious. Although the plane crash landed, pilot Tom Haines reassured NBC's Today hosts that Ford "is very meticulous in his flying all the time."

As a "very cautious and capable" pilot, Ford "did a very admirable job of [landing the plane," Haines added, noting that the Six Days Seven Nights star had "very few options" when it came time to land the plane.

"He did a really excellent job of finding the right spot," Haines said.

(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)

—Reporting by Senta Scarborough and Maureen Heaton