John Travolta is not only one of Hollywood’s favorite actors, starring in hit films like Saturday Night Fever (1977), Grease (1978), and Pulp Fiction (1994), but he also has a license to fly in the sky. However, his piloting experiences haven’t always been smooth sailing. With his starring in a new short film about a harrowing flying experience, he has shared his own near-death experience from the cockpit.
Travolta stars in a new short film
Ignore the single tailed dH Vampire in movie poster – and check out this piece on the upcoming Disney adaptation of the ‘The Shepherd’ with star John Travolta recalling a similar aerial close shave with instruments failure #avgeek #TheShepherd https://t.co/PvkOmKs2dX pic.twitter.com/5NALUng4Km
— Tim Robinson (@RAeSTimR) November 25, 2023
Releasing on December 1, 2023, on Disney+, Travolta stars in the short film, The Shepherd, which is based on the novella of the same name written by Frederick Forsyth in 1975. It centers on a young Royal Air Force pilot trying to fly home for Christmas Eve who suffers an electrical failure in mid-air and has to attempt to land his Vampire aircraft. Travolta, who also served as executive producer on the short film, plays a mysterious rescue pilot who guides the young RAF pilot to safety.
His eerie connection to the story
One of the reasons Travolta took on the project was because he felt he had a pretty close connection to the story. “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,” he explained.
After reading the book, Travolta said that it really resonated with him because it was an experience he had personally been through himself. It happened back in 1992 when he was flying with his wife, Kelly Preston, and 7-month-old son, Jeff, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Rockland, Maine, for Thanksgiving.
“I had the equivalent of seven failures ― contagious failures,” Travolta explained, saying how his “transducer rectifier” wasn’t functioning. “I claimed an Emergency over the radio. And then everything went. I had one gyro. No flaps. No reverse thrust. When I fly, I find great objectivity up there. And I found I was calm. In flying school, they give you what they call a black cockpit. So I felt I’d been there before.”
Almost miraculously, he and his family survived the flight
Travolta explained how during that experience, he truly understood “what it felt like to absolutely think you’re going to die.” However, “…as if by a miracle,” as Travolta described it, he was able to make an emergency landing at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
It is no wonder he felt connected to the story of The Shepherd. “I made a landing just like [the character Freddie] does in the film. So I’m reading this book saying, ‘I’ve lived this,'” he said. The story resonated even deeper with him because it is all about “life and death and how precious life is.”