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Italian police officer Mauro Prosperi Center returns to a hero's welcome after the ordeal.

After another 2 days of trying to find direction Prosperi stumbles across a Muslim shrine that is used by Bendouins or desert dwellers. These people travel large distances across the desert using camels.

Mauro Prosperi was born in Rome in 1955 and is a keen indurance runner. He entered the Marathon of the sands event in Morocco in 1994 at the age of 39 but disaster struck. This grueling course is 155 miles long staged over a period of 6 days and is very demanding on the body. In the early age of this race only a few brave runners entered and the 1994 race had only 80 runners competing the marathon, you even have to sign a form in case you die and your body needs to be moved somewhere. These days 1300 or more enter and it would be much harder to get lost because of the long snake of people it is a much safer race today. The marathon of the sands race is considered the toughest race of it's kind. Four days into the race a sudden and powerful storm caused the sand to swirl and it lasted for 8 hours. Prosperi couldnt breath the storm had caused him to turn away from and find a safe spot, He found a spot to get away from the stinging sand but after the sand had settled he was alone and disorientated as the sand had changed the contours of the landscape he was not familiar with his surroundings and he know longer knew where he was. Having earlier been in fourth position in the race his luck had now run out and he only had a map a compass some dehydrated food sleeping bag and half a bottle of water which he consumed as slow as he could. He tried to use his map and compass but after 4 hours he was still lost in the baking desert. He now was thinking survival mode and urinated into his empty bottle as a desperate measure to stay hydrated. 

Prosperi stumbled across this Muslim Shrine

Inside the shrine he found a holy man inside a coffin and he also discovered some bats huddled together after climbing to the roof to place an Italian flag. He caught and consumed the bats drinking there blood and mashing the flesh to eat. He knew the race was over for him but he was delusional and fatigued dehydrated and tried to commit suicide by slitting his wrists, Luckily for him his blood was so congealed from dehydration it clotted straight away and he did not die there.He wanted to be found if he died in the desert his wife might not get the police pension on his death as the sand would bury him. He stayed in the shrine for 3 days hoping to be found but no one came even though he spotted a helicopter and an aeroplane but they failed to see him. He made a fire with his rucksack after hearing a plane overhead but another sandstorm hit which lasted 12 hours and he was not found. He decided to move on and try to find civilization across the desert. 

In the morning he woke still alive and he had more confidence and determination to try and find help. He still had some energy tablets left. He was still unsure which direction to go but took advice from the Taureg who told him to head for the clouds that can be seen at dawn. He walked for days killing snakes and lizards and eating them. He walked for several days becoming a man of the desert and eating anything edible he could find. He then stumbled upon a small oasis and lay for 7 hours slowly drinking the water. On the ninth day he saw some goats in the distance and then a young shepherd girl who ran to some berber tents to tell the women of her sight. They took him in and gave him some goats milk to drink but disallowed him to enter the tents as it is one of there laws, The police came and took him to a military camp blindfolded as they knew nothing of the man. When they found out he was the lost runner they celebrated. After 9 days Prosperi had travelled into Algeria and was 181 miles of course. He had lost 35 lb in body weight and only tipped the scales at 99 lbs, he had damaged his liver and his eyes and could not eat solid foods for months. 

If you're lost, head for the clouds that you can see on the horizon at dawn, that's where you will find life.

Prosperi competing in the 1994 Marathon De Sables.

Singing springs under the palms of the green oasis, listen to the call of the Tuareg in the night, in the calm/ At the pace of my pale camel I go, I travel without destination/ The desert is a world, a land of thirst and hunger/ The immense dunes stretch out, like an ocean of misfortune, from the waves of stirring sands.

A Desert Bat

A Taureg prince dedicated a poem about Prosperi  who he considered to be the chosen one, here is an exert.

A map showing the route for the Marathon De Sables route 1994.

Prosperi never stopped his desert marathons and finally finished the course in 2012 taking 31.5 hours to complete and coming in at 131st place

Surviving in the desert is difficult and you will need to plan carefully for a safe journey. Staying out of the hot sun is an important step. Try and find a shaded area to rest, Ration your water and keep calm. Without water in a hot desert you can expect to perish within 3 to 4 days as the body will dry out. If you find yourself in this situation try not to drink your valuable water until you really need to drink. Drinking urine is not recommended as it will dehydrate you more. Travel during dusk and dawn as it wont be as cold or warm at these times. It will be very cold on a night make sure to take a sleeping bag with you if you decide to venture into the desert. 

Thirst and dehydration may have you hallucinate and see these types of images.

Prosperi's brother and brother in law flew in from Italy to try and help with the search. They discovered the Muslim shrine and found some shoe laces of Prosperi. If Prosperi had stayed put in the Marabout he may still of survived but it is a chance you take when all is lost to trek across the desert.

Lockhead L-188A Electra turboprop aeroplane similar to the one that crashed.

Juliane Koepcke Born 10th October 1954, Koepcke was flying with her mother over the Peruvian rainforest on Christmas eve 1971. They were flying in a Lockhead L-188A Electra turboprop aeroplane with 92 people on board on LANSA Flight 508, It was December 24th and the aircraft was flying at an altitude of 21000 feet or 6400m above ground, It suddenly flew into an area  of severe thunderstorms and turbulence. Even though conditions were bad crew decided to continue the journey as there was pressure to meet the holiday schedule. At about 12.36 pm a lightning strike ignited the fuel tank in the right wing which caused structural failure of the aircraft, It entered into an extremely steep fall. There was pitch black all around and the aircraft was not built for heavy turbulence situations as it's design had a rigid wing design, Koepcke noticed a glistening light that struck the engine on the right wing this caused the plane to fall at an alarming rate and the aircraft started to break up under the intense situation, The wing fell off and the plane was ripped apart causing massive fatalities on the ground, Amazingly Koepcke did not perish as she fell over 2 miles still strapped into her seat and landed in the Peruvian rainforest. She sustained a broken collar bone a deep gash to her right arm and an eye injury and was battered and bruised but otherwise alive and able to walk. Sadly she was the sole survivor of this accident and lived to tale the tale of what happened that fateful day. Her eye suffered popped capillaries because of the rapid decompression as she fell, she also had a torn ligament injury called ACL a strained vertebra in her neck and a  partially fractured shin but she was still alive. 

Koepcke was hurt and she lay for half a day unable to stand without feeling dizzy. Once she was able to move around a litle she decided to look for her mother Maria Koepcke who was also on the flight. After a day of searching to no avail she decided she would try and find help, As she searched she found a bag of sweets which was her only food source the entire time she was in the jungle.

Luckily her father had taught her some survival skills and decided to follow the river downstream taking extreme caution not to get bitten by any poisonous snakes. Her vision was impaired and she walked the banks of the river and sometimes in the water itself to get further along. She had lost her spectacles so her sight would of been blurry and hazy at all times. She recalls hearing King Vultures around her and knew they were vultures as she learnt this while living at her parents research station just a year and a half previous.

She thought there must be dead bodies in the area and the next day she encountered three passengers still strapped into there seats that had landed head first into the ground. This would of been very upsetting for Koepcke but also a little liberating as she survived.

Amazon King Vulture

I couldn't really see that much, only people's feet pointing up. I poked their feet with a stick. I couldn't touch the dead bodies. I couldn't smell anything and they hadn't been eaten yet or started to decay. I mean, sure, decay must have started, but I couldn't notice it. I could tell it was a woman because she had polished toenails and the others must have been two men, judging by their pants and shoes. I moved on after a while, but in the first moment after finding them, it was like I was paralyzed.

After several days of trekking Koepcke'e wounds became infected and her arm head become infested with maggots. She attempted to remove the maggots by squeezing the wound and also a stick but both methods failed. She had been in the jungle for 10 days when she finally came across a boat which at first she thought was a mirage or hallucination. As she got closer to the boat she found a small hut that was being used for the lumbermen, It was empty at that moment but she found an outboard motor and some diesel fuel in a barrel. She found a tube and used this to sython some fuel onto her infested wound to try and remove the maggots. She had learnt this from her father who used gasoline to remove maggots from the family dog. The maggots tried to burrow deeper into her arm but eventually surfaced and she was able to pick them out. The ground was too hard for her to sleep in the hut so she left and went a little down stream to find some softer ground, The next day as she woke she found there were several poisonous dart frogs around her she tried to catch them not realizing that they were extremly poisonous, Luckily she was unable to catch any frogs and decided to stay another night in the hut this time, She did consider taking the boat but changed her mind after she decided it was wrong and stealing. 

After some time of being in the hut she heard some noises nearby,  Then as the voices grew closer she saw three lumbermen coming out of the forest, At first the men were startled and thought she was a water spirit,

Water Spirit Example

She explained her story to the men and they believed her as they had heard of an aeroplane crash in the area, She used her Spanish to introduce herself thinking it would be better understood,  The men fed her and tried to fix her wounds the best they could. After a short time the men took Koepcke on a seven hour boat ride to a lumber village, After arriving a local pilot agreed to fly her to a nearby hospital in Pucallpa  which was run by missionaries. It was only a short 15 minute flight and a day later she met her father while at the hospital. After her reunion Koepcke helped search parties to find the dead and crash site, Her mother was found but unfortunately she had died, They found her mother on January 12th and they suggested she had survived for 2 days but because of her severe injuries she was unable to move, The movie Miracles Still Happen 1974 covers this remarkable story and the documentary  Wings Of Hope by the director Werner Herzog, Herzog explains he narrowly missed the same flight himself so considers himself lucky to be alive.

How did she survive such a great fall people have speculated. One way she survived is that the seats she was strapped into rotated on free fall like the blades of a helicopter and this slowed her descent, The seats would of acted as a cushion protecting her as she hit the foliage trees and the ground including the cushion of her seat. She also landed upright as a head down position would certainly of killed her. She had lost one of her sandals and used the other to test the ground ahead and there had been some heavy rainfall softening the ground and helping her to regain consciousness. She was only wearing a sleeveless mini dress so offered little protection from the fall. 14 passengers initially survived the fall laying injured on the ground but had perished in the coming days while waiting for rescue. The deceased were all laid to rest in a cemetery in Yarinacocha.

Koepcke is now a biologist living in Germany. Her autobiography, “Als ich vom Himmel fiel (When I Fell From the Sky)” was released in 2011, for which she won the Corine Literary Prize.

Juliane Koepcke as she looks today.

Poison Arrow Dart frogs are native to tropical central and South America. They are most active during the day a diurnal species, They have brightly coloured bodies this is correlated with the toxity of the species. This aposematic makeup warns predators of there poisonous attributes. They eat ant's mites and termites in there diet primarily. They are described as dart frogs due to the indigenous tribes that use the venom to tip there arrows to kill animals for food and clothing. The Phyllobates genus is the only used for the poison as it is the most potent of all, The frog emits its poison called batrachotoxin which is secreted through the skin of the animal.Other frogs that have a cryptic colouration but low to 0 amounts of poison eat a larger more wider variety of prey. Many dart frog species are endangered due to human infrastructure destroying the forests.

Most species of dart frogs are small sometimes less than 1.5 cm 0.59 inch in adult length, Some do grow to about 6 cm in length also and weigh about one 0unce on average. Adult frogs like to lat there eggs in moist places including leaves and exposed roots and anywhere which offers a moist area. Many species are dedicated parents, Tadpoles stick to the mucus on the backs of their parents and are taken up into the upper levels of the rainforest trees and deposited in pools of accumalated water andepiphytic plants which are plants that grow on top of another plant and derive there nutrients from the air rain and water. There are about 170 species from 13 genera so far identified but could be many more still to discover. 

“When we have really resolved to achieve something,” my father once said, “we succeed. We only have to want it, Juliane.” Exert from the book When I fell From The Sky.

Juliana Koepcke was the daughter of world renowned zoologist Hans Wilhelm 

Juliana Koepcke in Lima just before prom on December 22nd 1971, The night before the fateful crash.

Juliane Koepcke on January 4th 1972, Being flown to Pucallpa hospitable after being found and helped by three lumbermen.

Many wild animals lined her route from Crocodiles Piranha's and Monkey's but none attacked and gave her safe passage through the jungle terrain.

Steve Callahan born 1952 is a American author, Sailor, Inventor and Naval architect. He also has a degree in Philosophy. Callahan has a huge interest in boats and has built designed and lived aboard them. He has also given lessons on how to design boats for yourself and has raced and cruised boats of all types. Steve had a huge desire and determination to enter the Mini Transat 6.50 single handed sailing race across the Atlantic no mean task. As Steve was an efficient boat builder he built his own craft which he named Napoleon Solo, a 6.5 meter 21.3 foot sloop that he had confidence would get him across the vast Atlantic ocean. 

Steve Callahan on board the Napoleon solo leaving Newport which he built himself in June 1981.

It was 1981 and Steve departed from Newport USA with high hopes of crossing the Atlantic ocean. The Mini Transit 650 race starts in Penzance Cornwall but Steve decided to sail across instead of other means, This would hopefully give Steve the edge and prepare him for the race. He safely sailed to Bermuda which was his next stop where he picked up his friend Chris Latchem. Together they sailed on to Penzance UK which was a safe journey and they arrived with no problems to report.

Bermuda and it's Atlantic Islands.

Newport is a seaside city located on Aquidneck island in Newport county Rhode Island and was founded in 1639. The oldest and one of the most prestigious races is held there. Starting in 1851 the 100 Guineas cup regatta of that year was the first competition to win the America'a cup trophy. The race was won by the yacht America and consequently the race was called the America cup. A Schooner weighing 170 tonnes completed the Queen's course clockwise race around the Isle of Wight in a time of 10h and 34 minutes. A fleet race is one where all boats are exactly the same in size length and sail area. Another type of fleet race is a handicap race where different types of boat can race even if they are of a different class and specification, Faster boats will give more time to slower boats and time can be taken off at the end of the race. 18 yacht's entered but only 15 participated they were called America, Alarm, Arrow, Aurora, Bacchante, Beatrice, Brilliant, Constance, Eclipse, Freak, Gipsy Queen, Ione, Mona, Volante, and Wyvern.

A schooner participating in the 35th America's cup. 1886

Steve would of had to of passed near the Devil's triangle or better known the Bermuda triangle on his way to Cornwall. A number of ships and aeroplanes have mysteriously disappeared while travelling over or on the waters surface, It is one of the most busiest shipping lanes in the world as ships pass through to the America's Europe and the Caribbean islands. Speculators blame extra terrestrial or paranormal activity to be the blame but nothing is ever found. Paranormal explanations delve into Atlantis the fictional island that went underwater after falling out with the Deities. Left over technology from that era is playing havoc with the sonar and instruments used in modern transportation.

Ufologist suggest the people of Atlantis were from outer space similar to Scientology, They the people came from the Lyrian star sytem about 50000 years ago. Described as being much taller and fairer than humans they lived very long lives, They were a robust and  strong race of people with an average lifespan of 800 years. 

Atlanteans had exceptional powers almost surreal a mind to control the weather, Control volcanoes as they erupt and the ability to channel energy from time and space. 

Legend has it that Atlantis used large crystals to generate power for the city but they abused the power and this led to the destruction of the great city. Edgar Cayce said the largest crystal generator is buried in the Atlantic ocean near the Devils triangle. This electromagnetic energy is the cause of all the missing ships and planes it is causing severe havoc with sonar and other sensitive electronic equipment. It is so powerful now that the fire crystals can destroy anything that goes near. A US army weapon base in Dugway Utah was shut down after a gamma burst of unprecidented proportions was radiating from the base. The magnetic vortex could be an ancient early warning system. A russian satellite which was orbiting North America detected this huge gamma burst.

Steve then travelled on from Bermuda to the bright and breezy harbour of Penzance located in Cornwall UK to prepare for the Mini Transat 6.50 race but his friend Chris Latchem was not to accompany him this time . The race began on schedule September 26th 1981, He was bound for Antigua but had to drop out of the race in La Coruna Spain. Bad weather was to blame and five boats had already sank many participants were having problems. Steve's Sloop had also been damaged in the severe storms. He made repairs to his boat and continued on his journey down the coast of Spain and Portugal. He arrived at the Canary islands with no further problems and after a short time departed El Hierro on January 29th 1982 on his way to Antigua. The first week was great and everything was going well. Steve would enjoy reading while sailing and would relax in his cabin.  On the 7th day of sailing a gale emerged nothing too serious Steve thought the boat has been through worse.  Suddenly unexpectedly late at night a deafening bang was heard and the sloop started to take in water at a very fast rate. There was a hole in the hull and a shark or whale must of smashed into the boat, He woke in his bunk and had to act fast as the boat was sinking quick.

Penzance Harbour Cornwall UK

Canary Islands a Spanish archipelago off the coast of North Western Africa.

We all know whales are clever and also huge in size, This is not the first time a boat has come under attack or been struck by a large fish like a whale or shark. In Alaska fishing boats come under attack from pods of whales as they try and steal there catch. From the Golf of Alaska to Aleutian Island to the Bering sea killer whales are homing in on the  fishermen's catch. These whales can weigh over 11 tonnes and can swim through the water at 30 mph. Even a horn frantically used by the skipper will not disperse these creatures as it only means one thing Dinner time. These whales will trail a trawler for days and when the nets are full they will strike knawing through the twine with there strong jaws and sharp teeth. One fisherman admitted to using more than 4000 gallons of fuel just trying to get away from the whales even drifting silently for 18 hours as they pursued endlessly until he lost 12000 pounds of fresh fish.

Just like the Hell's Angels motorbike gang two whales will show up at first and then 40 more will circle the boat and it's game over for the fishing boat. Fast food is an addiction and whales are changing there feeding habits just like we go to Mcdonalds for a bite to eat.

Steve started to pack his life raft but realised he would have to dive down into the cabin to retrieve some essential items, The boat was nearly submerged and Steve recalls a calm and peaceful place under the water it was like a watery tomb, He kept holding his breath to retrieve as many essentials as he could, they were 

8 Pints of Water

Fishing Line

Navigational Charts


Distress Flares

Solar Still - Steve was producing about 1 pint a day with his version from 1981.

A few days worth of food.


Steve managed to get onto the inflated rubber raft exhausted at the extreme effort required, He attached a rope to one end of the sinking boat as a kind of temporary lifeline. He huddled that night under the canopy of the 6ft circular raft while trying to empty water from the raft as the waves were beating against the sides, An old tin can came in handy to do this. Around dawn the rope came free from the sloop and then the realism dawned that he was totally alone in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. Steve was now adrift and 800 miles West from the canaries but was heading in the opposite direction. His food would only last a few more days and water would be gone too, As the days passed Steve had much time to contemplate his life his mistakes and his future, He kept a log of each days events and made water with his solar still which took a few days to get going, This device was producing 1 pint of water a day and Steve would be continously thirsty and dehydrated.

A copy of Sea Survival by Dougal Robertson.

The 6 man Avon inflatable raft was slowly drifting Westward because of the South Equatorial current, He had to adapt to survive and became a caveman of the sea's catching whatever fish he could with his speargun, The sea life was following him and barnacles would collect on the bottom of his raft which brought fish that would stay with his craft for days and days, Some he would kill and some kept him company, He became attached to the fish and one time he put a hole in the bottom of the raft trying to catch a fish, He mainly caught and ate Mahi Mahi and Triggerfish but he also caught flying fish, birds and the barnacles too.

The Mahi Mahi fish is a surface dwelling ray finned fish found in tropical sub tropical and off shore temperate waters worldwide. They have dazzling colors golden on the sides and bright blues and greens on the sides and back, The pectoral fins are iridescent blue, they can live up to 5 years and average 7 to 13 kilograms and a meter in length, They like to eat crustaceans and plankton and crab squid flying fish and mackerel too.

Mahi Mahi Fish or common Dolphinfish Coryphaena hippurus

As he drifted the days passed and no matter how hard he tried to be found no boat or aeroplane helicopter did, He had a EPIRB which is a Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, Unfortunitely EPIRB was not monitored by sattelite at that time so did not trigger a rescue and no one saw the flares Steve was firing, 

How EPIRB works today.

While adrift Steve spotted 9 ships most in the two sea lanes he crossed but knew mentally he was going to have to save himself, His routine on a daily basis consisted of exercise navigated, prioritized problems, made repairs, fished, improved systems, and built food and water stocks for an emergency. He had to continually do these tasks to stay alive and to keep mentally focused. 

Steve Callahan spotted lights on the island of Marie Galante south east of Guadeloupe on April 20 1982, The following day fishermen picked him up just offshore, They were drawn to him because of the birds that surrounded the raft it had built up a small ecosystem while travelling the ocean, He had lost a third of his weight and was covered in saltwater sores. He was taken to the local hospitable for an afternoon but left that evening. He spent the following weeks recovering on the island then hitch hiked on boats up through the West Indies. He had been at sea for an incredible 76 days and lived to tale the tale.

Steve was very lucky to have survived such a treacherous sea and if he never got the emergency supplies he may not of made it, On day 50 he was struggling to keep the raft afloat with a pump as a part of it had ripped, He was at a low and nearly gave up but realized he would  be dead in a few hours if he did not fix it, He finally did fix the raft and it felt like the greatest victory of his life. In the last few days before being found the stills had stopped working and that would ultimately mean death but he was lucky to be found when he did. He could feel all the people who had been lost at sea his body was shutting down he was at the very edge of life.Incredibly he does not regret what happened or the 76 days afloat in the Atlantic ocean but he would definitely not do it again.

Steve Callahan in 2013

Quote: The sea remains the greatest wilderness. To my mind, voyaging through wildernesses, be they full of woods or waves, is essential to the growth and maturity of the human spirit.

Quote: There is a magnificent intensity in life that comes when we are not in control but are only reacting, living, surviving. I am not a religious man per se...but for me, to go to sea is to get a glimpse of the face of God. At sea I am reminded of my insignificance-of all men's insignificance. It is a wonderful feeling to be so humbled.

Quote: My plight has given me a strange kind of wealth, the most important kind. I value each moment that is not spent in pain, desperation, hunger, thirst, or loneliness.

A view of heaven from a seat in hell.

Steve had little food before he learnt to catch it, he was left with 10 ounces of peanuts, 16 ounces of baked beans, eggs cabbages 10 ounces of corned beef and 10 ounces of raisins, He had 8 pints of water. He had travelled 1800 miles in his raft, Sharks were a frequent appearance to the raft, He used a fork in his boy scout mess kit to jam a 4 inch rip in the raft by jamming it through the nylon he had bunched at the spot of the rip and bent inwards to lock the seal, This was his final attempt as he had lost his strength but it worked. He also ate golden sargassum weed which he scooped from the current.

The fishermen helping Steve Callahan to shore.

One of the fishermen who arrived at the raft shouted Hey mon, whatcha doin?, Callahan told them to finish there fishing before helping him. They fished for a couple of hours killing every fish that had followed the raft, As he was travelling in the fishermens boat the fish lay dead all around him, He recognised most of them and had mixed feelings as they were with him for all that time, They had travelled 1800 miles with Steve and had saved his life, Now they were  rewarded with death and the fish market, this could be ironic.

Callahan second from left with the three fishermen who rescued him.

This map shows the course Callahan sailed.

After the ordeal Callahan devoted himself to inventing better liferafts and becoming a leading expert on shipwrecks and survivial training while at sea, Years later he is still affected by the incident and always carries a jar of peanut butter where ever he goes so he is never without food and sips water sparingly as if he is still floating in the Atlantic, He also worked on the movie Life Of Pi and worked with almost every department including props, special effects, costume, and cinematography while filming in Taiwan. At home in Boothbay Maine callahan is fighting another lonely voyage the one of Leukemia, He has become only the third patient to undergo an experimental stem cell transplant in a clinical trial and was delighted when the doctor gave him the all clear. He has also wrote a book about the ordeal called Adrift. He also holds three US patents, a drogue like boat stability and directional control device (Patent No. 6684808), A folding rigid inflatable boat (FRIB) (Patent No. 6367404); and a Folding Rigid-bottom Boat (FRB) (Patent No. 6739278).

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