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Jimmie Angel
Jimmy Angel (pilot).jpg
Born
James Crawford Angel

(1899-08-01)August 1, 1899
Died December 8, 1956(1956-12-08) (aged 57)
Gorgas Hospital, Balboa, Canal Zone
Nationality American
Occupation Pilot, explorer
Known for Discovering Angel Falls, 16 November 1933

James "Jimmie" Crawford Angel (August 1, 1899 – December 8, 1956) was an American aviator after whom Angel Falls in Venezuela, the tallest waterfall in the world, is named.

Early life

James Crawford Angel was born August 1, 1899, near Cedar Valley, Missouri, the son of Glenn Davis Angel and Margaret Belle (Marshall) Angel. Because his grandfather, James Edward Angel, was living, he was called Crawford to avoid confusion in the Angel family during his younger years. He is alleged to have been in World War I, but the only certainty is that he registered for the draft on September 12, 1918. In his twenties he adopted the nickname "Jimmie" by which he was known for the rest of his life.

Angel Falls

Angel falls panoramic 20080314
Partly clouded view of the Angel Falls named after Jimmie Angel

The falls, which cascade from the top of Auyantepui in the remote Gran Sabana region of Venezuela, were not known to the outside world until Jimmie Angel flew over them on November 18, 1933 while searching for a valuable ore bed.

On October 9, 1937, he returned to the falls with the intention of landing. On board his Flamingo monoplane was his second wife Marie, Gustavo Heny, and Miguel Delgado, Heny's gardener. He attempted a landing, but despite a successful touchdown, his aircraft El Rio Caroní nose-dived when it hit soft ground at the end of its landing run - the wheels sank in the mud, making take-off impossible.

The passengers were unharmed but had to trek across difficult terrain and with low food supplies for 11 days to make their way off the tepui and down to the nearest settlement at Kamarata. When word got out of their exploits, international interest in the Gran Sabana region increased dramatically, leading to in-depth scientific exploration in the following years.

His aircraft remained atop Auyantepui until 1970, when it was disassembled and brought down by Venezuelan military helicopters. Today, an El Rio Caroní can be seen outside the airport terminal at Ciudad Bolívar. The airplane was re-assembled in the city of Maracay's aviation museum.

JimmieAngelPlane
Jimmie Angel's aircraft, El Rio Caroní, exhibited in front of Ciudad Bolívar airport
Jimmy Angels aeroplane Bolivar City Venezuela
Jimmie Angel's aircraft, El Rio Caroní, exhibited in front of Ciudad Bolívar airport (front view)

Death

On April 17, 1956, Angel suffered a head injury whilst landing his plane at David, Chiriquí, Panama. Soon afterwards, he had a heart attack and then suffered from various ailments for eight months, until he came down with pneumonia and went to Gorgas Hospital in Panama City, where he died on December 8, 1956. His cremated remains were first interred at the Portal of the Folded Wings Shrine to Aviation in Burbank, California, but in keeping with his wishes, his wife, his two sons and two of his friends scattered his ashes over Angel Falls on July 2, 1960.

Books

Spanish writer Alberto Vázquez-Figueroa covered Jimmie Angel's adventures in his 1998 novel ÍcaroISBN: 9788408025023, later translated into several foreign languages. There is also another book that details how Angel Falls got its name: "Truth or Dare: The Jimmie Angel Story" written by Jan-Willem de Vries ISBN: 9781419673665.

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