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John Travolta Recalls Near-Death Experience And Why He Relates To Short Film “The Shepherd”

Did you know that John Travolta is a licensed pilot? Yes, the actor can fly, and one certain time, his plane suffered a total electrical failure, so much so he actually thought he was going to die. Seems funny that he has to relive this experience onscreen.

John Travolta Says “The Shepherd’s” Electrical Failure Storyline Reminded Him of His Real Life Experience

Plane mishaps are no laughing matter, and Travolta got a taste of it on a day he’s less likely to ever forget. This made him relate more to the story of the Royal Air Force pilot, who suffers total electrical failure.

Speaking to Variety, the Oscar winner, 69, opened up about the time he suffered the same malfunction while flying a plane.

“I actually experienced a total electrical failure, not in a Vampire, but in a corporate jet over Washington D.C.,” Travolta, who has his own pilot’s license, said. “So when I read [Frederick Forsyth’s book of the same name], it resonated even more because of this experience I had personally had.”

John Travolta Recalls Near-Death Experience And Why He Relates To Short Film “The Shepherd”

“I knew what it felt like to absolutely think you’re going to die,” he added. “I had two good jet engines, but I had no instruments, no electric, nothing. And I thought it was over.”

In a 1995 New Yorker feature, Travolta recalled flying with his family when he was forced to make an emergency landing at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. At the time, he explained that his “transducer rectifier” started malfunctioning during the flight.

An investigation carried out afterwards, and published by the Washington Post, concluded that “the threat of a mid-air collision was very real” during the 1992 flight. The other plane involved in the near-miss was a Boeing 727.

“And then as if by a miracle, we descended as per the rules to a lower altitude,” Travola recalled at the Q&A this week. “I saw that Washington D.C. monument and identified that Washington National Airport was right next to it, and I made a landing just like [pilot Freddie Hooke] does in the film.”

He also praised his co-star Ben Radcliffe, who played Hooke, for his spectacular performance and for capturing that “despair when you think you’re actually going to die.”

“And I had my family on board and I said ‘This is it, I can’t believe I’m gonna die in this plane,'” Travolta said, adding that he had wanted to turn “Forsyth’s book” into a movie for as far back as 30 years ago.

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