Header Image Source: Photo by Jason Wong on Unsplash
Aaliyah (Mika Väisänen via Wikipedia)
A Cessna 402 plane (via Wikipedia)
"When considering Aaliyah’s track record, it’s befitting that her name means “The highest, most exalted one, the best.” Her parents, Diane and Michael, decided on the name based on the high hopes and expectations they would have if they had a daughter. Her success as both a recording artist and actress actually makes the name of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Aaliyah made her dreams come true. At 22, she not only had a very successful recording career but also established herself as a motion picture actress and an accomplished business woman.
From an early age, Aaliyah found satisfaction in her music. When she didn’t win the youth vocal competition on “Star Search” as a preteen, she didn’t let it deter her from continuing to sing. In fact, at age 11, she landed a five-night stint performing with Gladys Knight in Las Vegas. Born in Brooklyn, New York, she was raised between Detroit and New York and eventually became a client with Abrams Artists. She graduated from the Detroit Performing Arts High School in 1997 with a 4.0 GPA. She credits her educational success to the support from her family, her mother (who was a teacher that home schooled her), Dr. Sylvia Twyman, Dr. Denise Cotton, the Education Guidance Center, Dr. David Snead (Superintendent of Detroit Schools who approved Aaliyah’s program with Dr. Cotton and her parents) and Jennifer Vandenbrooks who also assisted in her education. College was definitely in the plans.
“When I told my parents that I wanted to embark along this path,” says Aaliyah, “they were with me all the way. They were the ones who shuttled me back and forth to my vocal lessons, dance lessons, private guitar, play rehearsals at Gesu Elementary School and they even saw to it that the sets for the plays were transported to Mary Grove College in Michigan. What could be more important?”
In 1994, at the age of 14, Aaliyah released her first album, Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number. It was an instant success. The first single, “Back And Forth,” was a Top 5 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and a No.1 R&B song. The follow up single, a remake of the Isley Brother’s “At Your Best (You Are Love)” reached Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was No. 2 at R&B radio. “I still remember how nervous I was right before “Back And Forth” came out,” she says. “I kept wondering if people would accept it. When it went gold, I had my answer, and it was just such an incredibly satisfying feeling.” The acceptance of her music inspired other female teen singers to follow in her footsteps. Her taste in fashion still influences her fans and other artists. Teen Vogue once wrote Aaliyah set the prototype for the young female artist of the ‘90s..."
— Source: Aaliyah Official Website
Biography.com “Inside the Plane Crash That Took Aaliyah's Life”
CNN article “Aaliyah Plane Was Overloaded By Hundreds Of Pounds”
CNN article “Aaliyah: A 'beautiful Person's' Life Cut Short”
New York Times article written by Kurt Eichenwald “Haste, Errors and a Fallen Star”
Daily Beast article by Cheyenne Roundtree “Aaliyah Was Drugged Before Her Fatal Plane Crash, New Book Shockingly Claims”
New Yorker article by Jim DeRogatis “The Focus Finally Turns to Aaliyah, in R. Kelly’s Trial”
BBC News article by Mauro Prosperi “How I Drank Urine and Blood to Survive”
Men’s Journal article by Hampton Sides “Crazy in the Desert”
Off Grid article by Patrick McCarthy “Alone in the Sahara: The Survival Story of Mauro Prosperi”
Nerdist article by Matthew Hart “Here’s How a Runner Survived Nine Days in the Sahara Desert”
Header Image Source: Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash
Mauro Prosperi and Mario Malerba (via BBC)
Mauro Prosperi and fellow runners (via BBC)
Shrine in the Sahara Desert where Mauro Prosperi took refuge (RealLifeLore via Nerdist)
Mauro Prosperi after the race (via BBC)
"Mauro Prosperi (born 13 July 1955) is a former Italian police officer and pentathlete, most notable for his nine-day disappearance in the Sahara Desert, whilst competing in the 1994 Marathon des Sables (Marathon of the Sands) in Morocco.
Following a career competing in modern pentathlons, Prosperi developed an interest in completing the Moroccan ultramarathon after being informed of its existence by a close friend. Together with 80 other participants, he began the five-stage competitive race in Foum Zguid on 10 April 1994. Prosperi's disappearance occurred four days into the week-long race, as he continued to run through an unexpected eight-hour sandstorm, determined to maintain his position of seventh place, and causing him to veer over 300 kilometers off course. During his nine-day disorientation, Prosperi's resorts to survival included drinking his own urine, killing and eating small desert animals such as lizards and bats for nourishment, and submerging himself in the desert sand during evenings to shield himself from frigid temperatures. Prosperi reported taking refuge in a long-abandoned Islamic shrine that had been used by Bedouins travelling across the Sahara, where he found a colony of bats hanging from the ceiling, many of which he killed and drank the blood of for further nourishment. During his stay in the vacant shrine, Prosperi used distress signals such as placing an Italian flag atop the shrine, using a stick to draw the letters "SOS" in the sand, and setting his backpack on fire to create a smoke signal. Despite these attempts, both a helicopter and a small airplane were unable to see Prosperi amongst the desert dunes as a 12-hour sandstorm had just started sweeping through the area, which extinguished his burning backpack, leaving him deserted again. Believing that he would die a prolonged agonizing death from dehydration, starvation and exposure, and fearing that his body may never be found in the vast remote desert region, which would have resulted in his wife needing to wait 10 years for Prosperi to be declared legally dead in absence of a body to receive his police pension, Prosperi attempted to commit suicide. Prosperi slashed his wrists with a small pocket knife he had and fell asleep believing he would die and not wake up, but due to his severe dehydration, his blood had clotted around the cuts.
On the ninth day of his disappearance, after traversing the Jebel Bani mountain range and hydrating himself at a pond in an oasis in the mountains, Prosperi discovered a trail of fresh goat droppings, which he followed and found a trail of fresh goat tracks mixed with fresh human footprints. Following the trail of footprints, he eventually found a little girl alone with a group of goats, this being the first human that Prosperi had seen in 10 days. Prosperi ran towards the child pleading for help, but the girl was frightened by this and ran away, disappearing over a sand dune. Prosperi followed the young girl to a camp of Tuareg nomads at a small oasis. He was tended to at the camp by the local people until he was picked up by a patrol of the Algerian military police and taken to a nearby hospital. In the hospital, he learned that he successfully traversed the Jebel Bani mountain chain and had unknowingly crossed the border from Morocco into Algeria. Prosperi required 16 liters of intravenous fluids to replenish his water loss. He had lost 33 pounds of weight and weighed approximately 99 pounds. His liver was damaged to the point that he could consume only liquids for several months and his kidneys had sustained permanent damage from the amount of his own urine he had consumed for hydration while stranded.
Following his return to Italy after spending seven days in the hospital in Algeria and a two-year physical and mental recovery process, Prosperi has continued pursuing endurance running, and returned six times to the Marathon des Sables, notably placing 13th in 2001.
His survival story has since been depicted on the National Geographic Channel in a documentary titled Expeditions to the Edge: Sahara Nightmare and within episode 5 ("Lost in the Desert") of the 2019 Netflix series Losers. In 2014, British adventurer and survival instructor Bear Grylls also drew influence from Prosperi's survival in the Sahara Desert, within an episode of his six-part Discovery Channel series Bear Grylls: Escape from Hell.
Prosperi's story of endurance was also broadcast in a promotional campaign by 20th Century Fox in December 2015 in support of the American drama film The Revenant, released the same year. In May 2020, Prosperi published his book, written in Italian, alongside his former wife and co-author Cinzia Pagliara, entitled Quei 10 Giorni Oltre la Vita ("Those 10 Days Beyond Life")..."
— Source: Mauro Prosperi Wikipedia