Hollywood A-listers from Harrison Ford to Angelina Jolie are passionate about flying

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Harrison Ford, in stable condition after the crash of his World War II-era trainer last Thursday, is just one of many Hollywood stars who have embraced flying as passionately as they do acting.

Tom Cruise, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and John Travolta all have pilots' licences. Others include Michael Dorn, Edward Norton, Kurt Russell and Hilary Swank, who began learning to fly while starring in a 2009 Amelia Earhart biopic.

"There's a pretty good collection of folks in Hollywood...who use general aviation for transportation and recreation," said Thomas Haines of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA).

Ford, 72, is a seasoned pilot, at home in a wide variety of aircraft.

His personal fleet is understood to comprise Aviat Husky and de Havilland Beaver bush planes, a Cessna Sovereign business jet, a Bell 407 helicopter, a Waco Taperwing biplane - plus the open-cockpit, two-seat Ryan PT-22 Recruit that crashed last Thursday.

"I've been working for a living to support my airplane habit," he once quipped.

Haines has flown several times with Ford, an AOPA member who has testified on Capitol Hill and spoken out in support of America's smaller airports.

"He is very skilled, very methodical in his approach to aviation," he said, adding that the actor takes his high profile "very seriously" in order to promote personal flying.

Hollywood's deep ties with flying go back to its golden era, when Cecil B. DeMille and Charlie Chaplin ran their own airports and James Stewart, a World War II bomber pilot, tooled around in a humble Piper Super Cub.

Among Hollywood royalty today, Travolta owns several jets - including a Boeing 707 in vintage Qantas livery - which he keeps literally at the door of his Florida home at a private airport called Jumbolair.

Jolie began flying lessons in 2004, then got herself a Cirrus SR22, a touring aircraft - best known for its airframe parachute system - that is the world's best-selling single-engine plane. She flew it over Death Valley, in a crisp white suit, for a Vogue magazine feature in 2007 photographed by Annie Leibovitz.

Last year, Jolie's husband Pitt, perhaps inspired by his World War II movie Fury, reportedly dropped US$3.3 million (S$4.5 million) for the ultimate toy - an iconic Spitfire fighter.

If that is true, he could invite Cruise to a dog fight.

Cruise owns, among other planes, a P-51 Mustang fighter. The plane had "Kiss Me, Kate" emblazoned on the cowling in red before Cruise and actress Katie Holmes divorced in 2012.

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