Last Updated Mar 6, 2015 7:36 AM EST
LOS ANGELES -- Actor Harrison Ford was seriously injured when his vintage plane crash-landed on a golf course near the Santa Monica Municipal Airport Thursday afternoon.
Ford, 72, was transported to a hospital in fair to moderate condition, according to Los Angeles Fire Department Assistant Chief Patrick Butler. A source close to Ford's family told CBS News the actor suffered broken bones and required surgery.
Authorities said the World War II-era single-engine plane went down around 2:20 p.m. Thursday at Penmar Golf Course in the Venice area of Los Angeles, blocks away from the airport.
Ford took off from the airport at 2 p.m. About 20 minutes later, he told the tower he had engine failure and was making an immediate return, according to a recording posted by the website LiveATC.net.
The plane had been flying at about 3,000 feet and hit a tree on the way down, according to witnesses and officials.
The vintage aircraft, a 1942 Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR, landed right-side up and largely intact after leaving gouges on the golf course fairway. There was no fire or explosion.
Ford, the only person on board, was conscious and breathing when witnesses reached him. 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.
Dr. Sanjay Khurana, a spine surgeon who was among the players on the course told CBS Los Angeles he ran to help after seeing the plane go down. Khurana said Ford was slumped over, bleeding profusely and moaning. Ford had a very large scalp laceration but was able to speak and move, according to Khurana.
"He wasn't a bloody mess. He was alert. He had good vitals," Butler said.The bystanders pulled Ford from the plane because they were afraid it might explode or catch fire, Butler said.
Ford's publicist, Ina Treciokas, said in a statement the actor was "banged up and is in the hospital receiving medical care."
"The injuries sustained are not life threatening, and he is expected to make a full recovery, Treciokas said.
Ford's son, Ben sent out a tweet a few hours after the crash updating fans and well-wishers:
Ford, an Academy Award-nominated actor known widely as the star of the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" movie series, is also known as a longtime aviation enthusiast.
He owns several aircraft and has been active with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the Experimental Aircraft Association. Known for piloting fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, he crashed a helicopter in the Santa Clarita area during a training flight in 1999 and a six-seat plane in Nebraska in 2000.
Ford got his pilot's license in the late 1980s and has served as a spokesman to 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 in 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.
Santa Monica 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.
Last summer, Ford was one of the pilots who filed a federal complaint in an effort to keep the airport open, according to CBS Los Angeles.
Ford is cast to reprise his role as the swashbuckling space-age soldier-of-fortune Han Solo in his fourth "Star Wars" movie, set for release in December.