EXCLUSIVE – ‘Harrison Ford is a genuine hero’: Former Boy Scout who was saved by movie star-turned-rescue helicopter pilot after getting lost in Yellowstone pays tribute to actor

A former Boy Scout saved by hero pilot Harrison Ford after getting lost while on a camping trip has told the injured star: ‘Get better soon, my family is thinking of you.’

  • Cody Clawson was 13 when he got lost in Yellowstone National Park
  • He walked for hours alone in rain and snow and took shelter in a cave
  • Heard planes flying by, used his belt to reflect sunlight to get attention
  • Harrison Ford was in a chopper, spotted the teen and landed nearby 
  • Now 26, he recalls thinking ‘Han Solo just rescued me, how cool is that?’ 
  • Ford ‘expertly’ crash-landed his vintage spitfire plane in a Los Angeles golf course after the engine failed on Thursday afternoon

Cody Clawson says Ford is a ‘genuine hero’ after saving his life in a dramatic helicopter rescue back in 2001.

Cody was just 13 when he lost the trail during a Boy Scout camp in a remote forest just south of Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park.

He was missing for almost 19 hours and helicopter pilot Ford – who lived part-time in Jackson, Wyoming at the time – joined a massive search-and-rescue mission to find him.

This is the moment Harrison Ford rescued stranded Boy Scout Cody Clawson (both pictured) in his chopper
Rescue: Cody Clawson, pictured left as a boy scout aged 13, went missing during a camping trip in Yellowstone National Park and was lost for 19 hours overnight in the snow. He shone his belt to flag Ford down
Rescue: Cody Clawson, pictured left as a boy scout aged 13, went missing during a camping trip in Yellowstone National Park and was lost for 19 hours overnight in the snow. He shone his belt to flag Ford down
‘Genuine hero’: Clawson, now 26 and married with a son, hails the Star Wars actor as a real life star

Cody, now 26, recalls: ‘We had just got to the camp and started unloading and I started to follow somebody who I thought was my dad.

‘I lost track of him and before I knew it I was completely lost.

‘I was just 13, I was pretty scared. I stayed where I was for about half-an-hour but no one came, so I started wandering, then I got really lost.

‘I was missing overnight, it had rained and snowed that day so it was freezing cold.

‘I was soggy, tired and hungry. I found a cave to take shelter and curled in to a ball.

‘I was so tired I slept on and off.’

Cody said he prayed to be rescued and was was only comforted by his religious beliefs.

‘In the night I guess I had an epiphany or whatever you want to call it and the next morning I knew where I needed to go,’ he said.

‘I walked for a good few miles before I started hearing the search planes. I found a clearing next to a steep rocky outcrop and started making my way up.

‘I was about to start climbing it and that’s when I saw the chopper.’

Cody had seen Ford’s helicopter circling above him but then suddenly the aircraft vanished from view.

‘I had a Scout belt on which had a shiny brass buckle and I used it to reflect the sunlight to get their attention,’ he said.

‘I was definitely glad of my Boy Scout training at that point, but then the chopper passed over and had gone.

‘I thought they hadn’t seen me, I felt terrible and got a little depressed.’

 Harrison Ford came over to me and said ‘Boy, you sure must have earned a merit badge for this one’Cody Clawson, former Boy Scout

Luckily for Cody, Ford had spotted the teen and had set down his helicopter on the crest of a nearby hill.

Cody recalled: ‘This guy came down and was shouting my name.

‘I was so relieved, he said, “we’re here to get you, but you’ll never guess who’s flying the helicopter?”

‘In my mind I was like, “I really don’t care”, I just wanted to get out of there.

‘But he said it was Harrison Ford and I didn’t believe him.’

Cody said he didn’t realize the rescuer was telling the truth until he got in to the back of the chopper.

‘The pilot turned round and said, “Good morning”.

‘The way he said it reminded me so much of his role of Hans Solo in Star Wars. Then I was like, “Oh my God, Han Solo has just rescued me, how cool is that”.

‘I thought I was delirious at first but then realized I wasn’t dreaming.’

Ford flew the boy to a make-shift search and rescue headquarters that had been set up in the area.

‘They said the camp was a mile-and-a-half from where I was so I was walking in the right direction,’ he said.

‘When we landed Harrison Ford came over to me and said: “Boy, you sure must have earned a merit badge for this one.”

‘But I told him I’d already earned this badge last summer, and he laughed.

Avid flyer: Harrison Ford, 72, has been a trained pilot for more than two decades and has a bevvy of aircraft
Here he is pictured on an airfield surveying the fare. Clawson said he looked like Hans Solo in the driving seat
Crash: On Thursday afternoon, Ford crash-landed his vintage spitfire on a Los Angeles golf course
Handled: Experts hailed the landing as ‘perfectly executed’ as it was his only option when the engine failed

‘He had always been somebody I looked up to and appreciated.

‘And what he did gave me a different perspective on stars. They sometimes get portrayed as snobby people, but there really is good, generous people out there.

‘And to me Harrison Ford is one of those good people who we’re lucky to have as an influence on our lives.’

At the time Cody recalls Ford being interviewed about the rescue and the Indiana Jones actor said: ‘I’m gonna fly anyway so I met as well fly search and rescue and help people.’

Then Teton County Sheriff Bob Zimmer said Ford’s volunteer efforts saved the department $1,000 an hour, the amount it would have cost to hire a private pilot.

Cody admitted he was a little embarrassed by the incident but added that he was very popular with the kids on camp when they found out who rescued him.

He said: ‘The kids asked if I got an autograph but I told them, ‘No, but I got a hug and a handshake, and that’s better’.

These days Cody, who lives with wife Kelsi and their 16-month-old son Kael in Ogden, Utah, works for a medical company making filters for dialysis machines.

He said that when he heard the news that Ford had crashed his vintage plane in Venice, California and had been injured, he was ‘shocked’ and ‘genuinely concerned’.

‘This guy saved my life, the first thing I thought is ‘is he alright’,’ Cody said.

‘I appreciated what he did for me all those years ago and I just hope he gets better and can help other people in future.

‘He’s a genuine hero, not just in the films, he’s a great man.’

It’s not the only time Ford has been involved in a dramatic rescue.

In July, 2000 the actor rescued Sarah George, 20, after she got in to difficulties on Table Mountain in Wyoming.

George and her friend Megan Freeman, 22, were on a five-hour climb of the 11,106-ft mountain on July 31 when heat, altitude and dehydration left George sick and unable to take more than a couple steps.

After another hiker called for help on a cell phone, the Star Wars star took to the air.

Ford landed his helicopter in a meadow and picked up George; Freeman was told there wasn’t enough room and had to hike down.

‘He was wearing a T-shirt and a cowboy hat,’ George told ABC News. ‘He didn’t look like I’d ever seen him before.’

The ailing George vomited into the hat with about a minute to go before landing at Jackson’s St. John’s Hospital.

‘I can’t believe I barfed in Harrison Ford’s helicopter,’ she said.

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