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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

August 25, 2001

Are you ready for another edition of the Tuesday Timeline?  I hope you are!  It's the last one for August, and possibly the last one for at least a week or two.  The big move is happening this weekend, and I won't be around during that period.  So, however long it takes to unpack everything - well, I don't have any idea. 

But what I can say is that I do have an interesting topic to talk about in today's Tuesday Timeline entry.  It's a sad topic, mind you, but an interesting one.

I'll explain why that is the case in a moment.  For now, we have a little bit of housekeeping to take care of first.

Let's see what was going on in the world on all of the August 25th's of all time, shall we?

1609 - Galileo Galilei demonstrates his first telescope to Venetian lawmakers

1768 - James Cook begins his first voyage

1835 - The Great Moon Hoax - a story about there being life on the moon - is published in the New York Sun

1875 - Matthew Webb becomes the first person to swim across the English Channel, taking 22 hours to do so

1894 - Kitasato Shibasaburo discovers the infectious agent of the bubonic plague

1916 - The United States National Park Service is created

1939 - EastEnders actor John Bardon (d. 2014) is born in Brentford, Middlesex, England

1944 - During World War II, Paris, France is liberated by the Allies

1945 - Armed supporters of the Chinese Communist Party kill American intelligence officer John Birch - who many consider to be the first victim of the Cold War

1946 - Football player and sportscaster Charlie Sanders (d. 2015) is born in Richlands, North Carolina

1981 - Voyager 2 makes its closest approach to Saturn; exactly 8 years later, in 1989, it would make its closest approach to Neptune

1985 - Thirteen-year-old child ambassador Samantha Smith is killed in a plane crash in Auburn, Maine

1988 - Lisbon, Portugal's Chiado area is severely damaged by fire

1991 - Belarus becomes an independent nation, officially breaking off from the Soviet Union

2009 - American Senator Ted Kennedy passes away at the age of 77

2012 - Astronaut Neil Armstrong dies at the age of 82

2013 - A train derailment in Huimanguillo, Tabasco, Mexico kills six and injures 22

And for celebrity birthdays, let us wish the following people a happy birthday; Monty Hall, Sean Connery, Regis Philbin, Tom Skerritt, Virginia Euwer Wolff, David Canary, John Badham, Conrad Black, Anthony Heald, Gene Simmons, Geoff Downes, Elvis Costello, Tim Burton, Christian LeBlanc, Ashley Crow, Billy Ray Cyrus, Ally Walker, David Packer, Christine McGlade, Blair Underwood, Joanne Whalley, Robert Maschio, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Tom Hollander, Rachael Ray, Cameron Mathison, Rachel Shelley, Jo Dee Messina, Claudia Schiffer, Eric Millegan, Jensen Atwood, Jonathan Togo, Kel Mitchell, Rachel Bilson, Stacey Farber, Blake Lively, Alex Roots, and Josh Fitter.

Wow...that's a lot of people with August 25 birthdays!  I hope I didn't forget anybody!

So, for today's date, we're going to go back in time a mere fourteen years to August 25, 2001.

And, to begin this Tuesday Timeline entry, I thought I would post a music video for all of you to watch.  There's a story behind it...a rather tragic story.

ARTIST: Aaliyah
SONG:  Rock The Boat
ALBUM:  Aaliyah
DATE RELEASED:  January 15, 2002

Now, one thing you can say about this video is that it had a lot of beautiful imagery.  After all, the video was shot over a period of three days in August 2001 in Miami, Florida and the Bahamas.  The song was just one of the singles set for release from her 2001 album "Aaliyah", which had just been released in July 2001, and early buzz among music critics was that the album was expected to make Aaliyah Dawn Haughton a household name.

Though, you could say that she was well on her way to doing just that when she first hit the music scene in the spring of 1994.  Like her fellow singers Brandy and Monica who were teenagers when they released their debut albums, Aaliyah was just fifteen when her first album "Age Ain't Nothing But A Number" in May 1994.  A second album, "One In A Million" followed in August 1996.  But it wasn't until she contributed songs to the film soundtracks of "Dr. Doolittle" and "Romeo Must Die" (and made her feature film debut in the latter film) that people really started to take notice.

At the time that Aaliyah was working on the video for "Rock The Boat" (which started filming on August 22, 2001), she had a lot of things going for her.  In addition to her third album doing quite well on the R&B charts, she also had landed a role in the Michael Rymer film, "Queen Of The Damned", set for released in early 2002.  She had also been dating Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder Damon Dash, and by all accounts, the couple had been getting quite serious with each other despite the eight year age difference between them (Dash was 30, Aaliyah just 22).

(Of course, it was nothing like when a 15-year-old Aaliyah secretly married a then 27-year-old R. Kelly in late 1994 - the marriage was annulled a month after Aaliyah's sixteenth birthday in February 1995.)

Anyway, the point is that Aaliyah was on top of the world, and had achieved everything that most 22-year-olds could only dream of.

Tragically, the video shoot for "Rock The Boat" would be the last time that anyone would ever see the singer alive.

After filming the underwater scenes for the video on August 22, Aaliyah and her crew flew down to the Bahamas to film the rest of the video.  The filming in the Bahamas was expected to take three days, and a flight back to the United States was booked for Sunday, August 26.

But when Aaliyah wrapped up her scenes a day early, she made the decision to take an earlier flight back to the United States, as she was anxious to get back home.  She would go ahead home while the rest of the video was filmed with the background extras.

The flight back to the United States was scheduled to arrive at the Bahamas the afternoon of August 25, 2001, and Aaliyah boarded the twin-engine Cessna 402B aircraft from Marsh Harbour Airport along with seven other people who were part of Aaliyah's styling crew, close friends, and employees of Blackground Records.

The flight was supposed to arrive at the airport at 4:30 that afternoon, but did not arrive until 6:15, and this reportedly caused a bit of a scuffle between the passengers of the flight and the pilot, Luis Morales III.  But according to another charter pilot, who happened to overhear the fight, he claimed that Morales was trying to convince the passengers that the plane had too much weight on it to fly safely.  Certainly the plane that was chartered was a lot smaller than the plane that brought them to the Bahamas, and each of the passengers on the plane had also brought the equipment that they needed to bring with them for the video shoot.

But despite Morales telling the passengers that it wasn't safe to fly, he eventually gave in and started up the plane, even though one of the engines wouldn't start up at first. 

The flight only lasted a minute at the most.  About a half a mile from the airport, the plane crashed and exploded.  None of the passengers aboard the plane survived the crash.

And just like that, the life of Aaliyah Dawn Houghton was over.  Dead in a plane crash on August 25, 2001 at just twenty-two years old.  The other passengers on board, as well as the pilot, were also dead.  Some were killed instantly, while others died slow, agonizing deaths later on.  Some of the bodies on the plane were burned beyond recognition.  That was how severe the plane crash was.

But what exactly caused the plane to crash in the Bahamas shortly after takeoff?

Well, as it turned out, the pilot was absolutely correct in his suspicion that the aircraft was overloaded.  Further examination of the wreckage confirmed that the aircraft had exceeded its weight limit by 700 pounds, causing the craft to lose its center of gravity.  The excess weight prevented the plane from being able to remain centered, and it practically nose dived into the ground.

But as the investigation continued, it was revealed that the pilot himself could have been a factor in the crash.  In an autopsy, it was revealed that Morales had traces of alcohol and cocaine in his system at the time of his death, which meant that he was flying under the influence.  And while he had received his pilot's license eighteen months before the crash, he also had a long rap sheet as well.  He had been arrested days before the crash for driving with a suspended license and for having cocaine in his possession.  He had been sentenced to probation on August 13, 2001, and just before he flew the plane that would eventually kill him, Aaliyah, and seven others, he had been fired from Florida's Golden Airlines for failing to turn up for work.

He had only been hired by the charter service that supplied the plane for Aaliyah and her crew - Blackhawk International Airways - two days before the crash, and that he had not even been approved to fly any aircraft for the operator!  So, although Morales was qualified to fly a Cessna aircraft, he was not given the authorization by the FAA to do so at Blackhawk. 

Needless to say, all of the variables were there for disaster.  And eerily enough, a month before she died, Aaliyah had suspected that something bad was going to happen to her because she kept on having dreams to the effect, although she couldn't explain why this was happening.

At any rate, a rising star had burnt out much too soon.  Her funeral was held on August 31, 2001, and shortly after her death, the sales of her third album skyrocketed.  There was talk about the "Rock The Boat" video not being released at all due to the fact that it was the last thing that Aaliyah ever filmed (the video was originally meant to have been released September 4, 2001).  But BET decided to air the video in October 2001 as a final tribute to the singer.  The song was later nominated for a Grammy Award.

Aaliyah's album meanwhile skyrocketed in sales, jumping from #19 to #1 on the Billboard 200 in just one week.  Three million copies were sold of the album.

And while "Queen Of The Damned" was not critically acclaimed by any means, it still was a hit at the box office, with many of Aaliyah's fans going to the film just to get one last look at the late singer.

Aaliyah was a rising star in the world of R&B, and it seems hard to believe that she would be 36 years old if she were still alive.  It's hard to say if she would have lasted in the world of music...but one thing we can say is that she died when she was at her prime.  It's just a shame that she never lived long enough to live out her dreams.

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