Politico first reported on the incident. A Trump spokesman declined to comment.
The flight had gone approximately 75 miles after taking off from New Orleans Lakefront Airport, reaching an altitude of about 28,000 feet before turning around, according to tracking data from ADS-B Exchange. The Dassault Falcon 900 carried a retinue of Secret Service agents, other support staffers, Trump and some of his advisers, according to the people familiar with the episode. One of the plane’s engines failed, the people said.
The tracking data, reviewed by The Washington Post, show the plane started its journey in Texas, flew to Palm Beach on Saturday afternoon and then went to New Orleans. A map of the evening flight shows the plane was over the water when it turned around and went back to New Orleans, heading for Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.
As the jet came in to land, an air traffic controller told the pilot, “There will be vehicles following you down the runway.”
“I appreciate it,” the pilot said, according to recordings archived by LiveATC.net.
The plane belonged to a donor who loaned it to Trump for the evening, according to people familiar with the matter. The plane’s tail number was linked to a Utah-based company that is the trustee for more than 1,400 planes. The donor’s identity could not be immediately verified.
Trump advisers worked to secure another donor’s plane, which was brought to the airport in New Orleans to meet him. Trump eventually returned to Palm Beach on the plane of Craig Estey, a GOP donor and founder of Nevada Restaurant Services.
Trump did not arrive home to Palm Beach until early in the morning, the people familiar with the incident said.