August 1, 1899|
Cedar Valley, Missouri
|Died||December 8, 1956
Panama City, Panama
|Known for||Landing on Angel Falls|
His birth and 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. In his 20s he adopted the nickname Jimmie by which he was known for the rest of his life.
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 that day were his second wife Marie, Gustavo Heny, and Miguel Delgado, Heny's gardener. He attempted a landing, but despite a successful touchdown, his El Rio Caroní aircraft 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.
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.
- "Plane Pilot Sights Highest Waterfall in World." Popular Science, April 1938, p. 37.
- Angel, Karen (2012). "Why the World’s Tallest Waterfall is Named Angel Falls". Terrae Incognitae 44 (1): 16–42. doi:10.1179/0082288412Z.0000000003.
- Angel, Karen. "The History of Jimmie Angel". Archived from the original on 16 March 2010.
- George, Uwe (May 1989). "Venezuela's Islands in Time". National Geographic 175 (#5): p. 549.
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