John Travolta nearly died after plane had ‘total electrical failure’

John Travolta nearly died after plane had ‘total electrical failure’

John Travolta’s latest work in “The Shepherd” brought him back to a near-fatal experience he had while piloting a plane with his entire family on board.

The “Grease” actor, 69, recalled the moment while promoting his latest short at a London screening. The project, based on the 1975 novella by Frederick Forsyth, tells the story of a young Royal Air Force pilot (Ben Radcliffe) attempting to land safely after suffering an electrical failure mid-air, and requires assistance from another pilot (Travolta).

“The kismet of the project is, I actually experienced a total electrical failure, not in a Vampire but a corporate jet, over Washington D.C., prior to my discovering the book,” the Oscar winner said, per the BBC.

“So when I read the book, it resonated more because of this experience I’d personally had.”

John Travolta in the original short film “The Shepherd.”
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Disney+’s “The Shepherd”
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In 1995, the licensed pilot revealed in a New Yorker interview that he was forced to make an emergency landing at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport with his family in 1992.

“I had two jet engines, but I had no instruments, no electric, nothing,” he said, noting it taught him “what it felt like to absolutely think you’re going to die.”

“I thought it was over,” he continued. “Just like this boy, portrayed so beautifully [by Radcliffe]. He captured that despair when you think you’re actually going to die. I had my family on board and I said, ‘This is it. I can’t believe I’m going to die in this plane.’”

John Travolta in 2002.
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John Travolta and Kelly Preston married in 1991.
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Ben Radcliffe in “The Shepherd.”
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Travolta knew to land at the airport once he spotted the Washington D.C. monument in the air.

He added: “I made a landing just like [the character Freddie] does in the film. So I’m reading this book saying, ‘I’ve lived this.’”

Travolta was presumably on the aircraft with wife Kelly Preston and son Jett at the time. The actress died in 2020 following a two-year battle with breast cancer at age 57. Jett, who was born in April 1992, died at age 16 while on vacation with his family when he suffered a seizure.

The Oscar winner completed a pilot training course with airline Qantas in Le Bourget, France, in August 13, 2002.
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Travolta and Preston are also parents of daughter Ella Bleu, born in April 2000, and son Benjamin, born in 2010.

“The Shepherd” debuts on Disney+ on Dec. 1.

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