John Travolta came within minutes of being killed in a fiery crash after the plane he was flying suffered a catastrophic electrical failure.
The 'Pulp Fiction' star - who is a qualified pilot - was caught up in a mid-air disaster in November 1992 when he was flying his family from Florida to Maine for the Thanksgiving holiday as all his electrical systems including his navigation instruments cut out during the approach to Washington, DC.
Speaking during a question-and-answer session in London after a screening of his new short film 'The Shepherd', Travolta explained: "I actually experienced a total electrical failure, not in a Vampire but in a corporate jet over Washington, DC. ...
"I knew what it felt like to absolutely think you’re going to die,” said Travolta, who was piloting a Gulfstream II from Florida to Maine for Thanksgiving when the incident occurred.
“I had two good jet engines but I had no instruments, no electric, nothing. And I thought it was over ... I had my family on board and I said: ‘This is it, I can’t believe I’m gonna die in this plane'."
However, the actor was thrown a lifeline as he descended and spotted the Washington Monument from the air and was able to find his way visually to a nearby airport.
Travolta added: "As if by a miracle, we descended as per the rules to a lower altitude. I saw that Washington, DC monument and identified that Washington National Airport was right next to it and I made a landing."
The actor's experience with an inflight disaster resonated with him when he read Frederick Forsyth's 1978 novella 'The Shepherd' and he decided to bring it to the big screen in a film starring Ben Radcliffe as RAF pilot Freddie Hooke who gets lost above the North Sea when flying home for Christmas.
Travolta plays another pilot who is able to guide Freddie to safety, and he insisted the story had huge similarities with his own experience: "When I read [Forsyth’s] book, it resonated even more because of this experience I had personally had ... So I’m reading this book saying ‘I’ve lived with this'. And of course, I was young enough then that I could have played this part [of Freddie]. But I had to wait 30 years to play the Shepherd.
"I preferred myself in the Shepherd. Because I felt like I was the old man that had that experience and could bring someone down safely. So it was much more authentic.
"I’ve been in various emergencies over the years and it was very easy for me to be that [guide] for someone."