In May, when Donald Trump was facing scrutiny over promised donations to veterans groups, Sean Hannity's website posted a heartwarming story of how Trump went out of his way to help veterans back in 1991. The article is based on the memories of a Marine reservist, Cpl. Ryan Stickney, who said that Trump sent his own private jet to ferry Stickney and 200 other stranded Marines back home, adding: "I have not seen a Clinton or Sanders plane, or anything else for that matter, sent to support the troops." "The Trump campaign has confirmed to Hannity.com that Mr. Trump did indeed send his plane to make two trips from North Carolina to Miami, Florida, to transport over 200 Gulf War Marines back home," the article says.
Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler looked into the story at the request of a reader, and on Thursday he rendered his verdict: "Sean Hannity needs to correct this article, if not pull it down. The Trump campaign earns Four Pinocchios for confirming a story that is easily debunked." The airplane, captured on photo by Cpl. Stickney, was not Trump's private jet but clearly part of the Trump Shuttle fleet, under contract with the Defense Department to transport troops in 1991. Furthermore, Trump had lost control of the airline in 1991 for failing to make loan payments, and the Trump Shuttle aircraft were flying for the Pentagon because, Kessler said, Trump "made a bad deal," agreeing to buy too many planes for his airline.
You can read more about Trump's disastrous foray into the airline industry — a business he knew nothing about — from The Daily Beast's Barbara Peterson, but it's more fun to watch this amazing video of Trump launching the Trump Shuttle in 1989, to champagne and a classy string quartet. "Truthfully it was great for the Trump ego," a young Trump says about owning an airline, when asked by PIX11's Barry Cunningham. On board the inaugural Trump Shuttle from New York to Washington, Cunningham asked Trump if the flight was symbolically indicative of a jump into politics. "No, it's not at all," Trump says. "I think that hopefully somebody is going to be able to take advantage of Japan instead of always being taken advantage of. I just enjoy what I'm doing."
If Trump had jumped into the 1992 race for president, and defeated incumbent President George H.W. Bush — or replaced third-party fellow billionaire Ross Perot — he would have run against Bill Clinton. Instead, in 1992, Trump was unloading Trump Shuttle at a steep loss.