Until the election, we're bringing you "The Trump Files," a daily dose of telling episodes, strange but true stories, or curious scenes from the life of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.
After a chartered helicopter crashed and killed three of Donald Trump's top executives in October 1989, the real estate mogul was distraught. "These were three fabulous young men in the prime of their lives," he said in a statement. "No better human beings ever existed. We are deeply saddened by this devastating tragedy, and our hearts go out to their families." A few months later, Trump told New York magazine that the crash had shocked him, showing him "how short and fragile life is." The event, he said, helped convince him he should leave his wife Ivana.
But did Trump cheat death that day? "Sources said Trump himself was scheduled to be on the flight but decided at the last minute he was too busy to leave New York," United Press International reported the day following the tragedy. Other outlets reported the same claim from the Trump camp, including Long Island's Newsday and the New York Daily News, which slapped the report on its cover.
At least one biographer, former Village Voice reporter Wayne Barrett, believed the claim was a PR stunt. In his book, Trump: The Greatest Show On Earth, Barrett wrote that Trump "did not hesitate to use [the crash] for personal advantage. He planted stories suggesting that he had almost boarded the chartered copter himself, though he'd never ridden to Atlantic City on one, trusting only his [personal] Puma [helicopter]."
And after the Daily News story about Trump's close call appeared, one of his executives told the Associated Press it was false. "Trump had definitely never planned to be on it," said Bernie Dillon, vice president of Trump Sports and Entertainment.
As BuzzFeed noted last year, Trump later walked back his claim that he was supposed to be on the flight. He described it instead as a fleeting idea he had as the executives left his office. "As quickly as the idea had popped into my mind, I decided not to go," he said in Surviving at the Top, his 1990 book.
Read the rest of "The Trump Files":
- Trump Files #1: The Time Andrew Dice Clay Thanked Donald for the Hookers
- Trump Files #2: When Donald Tried to Stop Charlie Sheen's Marriage to Brooke Mueller
- Trump Files #3: The Brief Life of the "Trump Chateau for the Indigent"
- Trump Files #4: Donald Thinks Asbestos Fears Are a Mob Conspiracy
- Trump Files #5: Donald's Nuclear Negotiating Fantasy
- Trump Files #6: Donald Wants a Powerball for Spies
- Trump Files #7: Donald Gets An Allowance
- Trump Files #8: The Time He Went Bananas on a Water Cooler
- Trump Files #9: The Great Geico Boycott
- Trump Files #10: Donald Trump, Tax-Hike Crusader
- Trump Files #11: Watch Donald Trump Say He Would Have Done Better as a Black Man
- Trump Files #12: Donald Can't Multiply 16 and 7
- Trump Files #13: Watch Donald Sing the "Green Acres" Theme Song in Overalls
- Trump Files #14: The Time Donald Trump Pulled Over His Limo to Stop a Beating
- Trump Files #15: When Donald Wanted to Help the Clintons Buy Their House
- Trump Files #16: He Once Forced a Small Business to Pay Him Royalties for Using the Word "Trump"
- Trump Files #17: He Dumped Wine on an "Unattractive Reporter"
- Trump Files #18: Behold the Hideous Statue He Wanted to Erect In Manhattan
- Trump Files #19: When Donald Was "Principal for a Day" and Confronted by a Fifth-Grader
- Trump Files #20: In 2012, Trump Begged GOP Presidential Candidates to Be Civil
- Trump Files #21: When Donald Couldn't Tell the Difference Between Gorbachev and an Impersonator
- Trump Files #22: His Football Team Treated Its Cheerleaders "Like Hookers"
- Trump Files #23: Donald Tried to Shut Down a Bike Race Named "Rump"
- Trump Files #24: When Donald Called Out Pat Buchanan for Bigotry
- Trump Files #25: Donald's Most Ridiculous Appearance on Howard Stern's Show
- Trump Files #26: How Donald Tricked New York Into Giving Him His First Huge Deal
- Trump Files #27: Donald Told Congress the Reagan Tax Cuts Were Terrible
- Trump Files #28: When Donald Destroyed Historic Art to Build Trump Tower
- Trump Files #29: Donald Wanted to Build an Insane Castle on Madison Avenue