Aaliyah was one of the biggest R&B stars of the ’90s. Hits like “Try Again” and “Are You That Somebody?” are still radio staples and still played in clubs around the world. When this talented singer died in a plane crash on August 25, 2001 at age 22, the world lost an incredible talent.
The circumstances surrounding her death were even more tragic considering how preventable her death was. As details emerged, the story just became sadder and sadder.
Traveling for Work
Aaliyah was in the Bahamas filming a music video for the song “Rock the Boat.” The video was directed by Hype Williams, who was responsible for some of the best music videos of the ’90s like Busta Rhymes’ “Woo Hah !! Got You All in Check” and TLC’s “No Scrubs.” A crew of about 60 people accompanied them to the Bahamas.
Filming was scheduled to be wrapped up on August 26, but Aaliyah actually finished her part in the video a little early. There was a plane flying back with some equipment and crew members that she could hitch a ride with.
She called her boyfriend at the time, Damon Dash, and spoke to him about the situation. He had a really bad feeling about the plane, but she had decided to come back early. Her final words to him are words he would never forget.
Something Felt Wrong
Dash actually had misgivings about her going to the Bahamas to film. That was a decision made by Williams that Aaliyah and Dash really didn’t feel comfortable with. Dash had to travel back to New York for a family obligation but talked to Aaliyah right before she left for the island.
She said she didn’t feel comfortable with the plane, so Dash told her not to get on it. Aaliyah, however, felt that she had an obligation to travel to the Bahamas to finish the video. Her last words to him were, “I gotta do it.”
Mistakes That Took Her Life
This decision would ultimately prove fatal because the plane that crashed was carrying more than 700 pounds of extra weight and one too many people. It crashed about 200 feet off the runway and killed eight people on board. Tests on the pilot also showed that he had cocaine and alcohol in his system.
It also turned out that the pilot, Luis Morales III, was not actually licensed to fly that particular aircraft. He also may have falsified hours of flying hours, making himself seem more qualified than he really was.
Morales may have felt pressured to fly the overloaded craft because, when flying to the Bahamas, he got into an argument with some of the video’s crew about the weight on the plane. They insisted that they had paid for a charter flight and wanted the whole crew flown down and that the plane was safe to fly. They got to the Bahamas without incident, so he may have assumed the plane could get back.
Unfortunately, that miscalculation proved tragic. The world lost an incredible talent and Dash lost a girlfriend that he loved very much. Aaliyah truly is a music legend taken way too soon.