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Monday August 7, 2000

Harrison Ford to the Rescue

Bell 407

Idaho Falls, USA - Harrison Ford made like a real-life Han Solo recently, zooming to the aid of a damsel in distress.

Indiana Jones alter ego is being credited with rescuing an ailing hiker in the Idaho back country.

On July 31, 20-year-old Sarah George and her friend Megan Freeman, 22, set out on a five-hour hike of Table Mountain in Idaho Falls. But, when they reached the summit, George was so overcome by dehydration and altitude sickness she could hardly take any more steps.

A passing hiker phoned in a call for help using his cell phone, and faster than you could say Air Force One, Ford, who volunteers his services to mountain rescuers, hopped into his trusty Bell 407 helicopter and raced to the scene.

As Ford was en route, two other hikers helped Freeman move George more than two miles from the Table Mountain summit to a meadow, where Ford landed his chopper. With the help of an on-board medic, a surprised George was loaded and lifted out. (Unfortunately for Freeman, there wasn't room in the whirlybird for her, and she had to hike out.)

"He was wearing a T-shirt and a cowboy hat," George told the Associated Press, not realizing it was Ford until the emergency medical technician pointed him out. "He didn't look like I'd ever seen him before."

Ford, who lives part-time in nearby Jackson, Wyoming, occasionally loans his flying skills and chopper to local police for rescue missions. His Bell helicopter saves the local sheriff's department over a $1,000 an hour it would cost to hire a pilot.

Of course, Ford, who masterfully piloted the Millennium Falcon on screen, has had some hairy moments in the air. Just last year, the action star almost needed some rescuing of his own, when he crash-landed his helicopter in Los Angeles, and last month,he narrowly escaped injury when his plane got blown off a runway.

Even Ford's latest adventure wasn't without its mishaps. Just before landing at Jackson's St. John's Hospital, George vomited into the cap of an EMT worker.

"I can't believe I barfed in Harrison Ford's helicopter," she said.



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