Jimmie Angel ... An Explorer

Have you heard of Jimmie Angel ? Who was he you may ask ? Many might not know who Jimmie Angel was but I can say he did make his mark in history.

Have you heard of Angel Falls, the highest & the tallest single drop waterfall in the world (3212 feet) ? Well, Angel Falls is named after him. Not only did he discover the falls, he introduced it to the world. To put Angel Falls into perspective, Angel Falls is 2.5 times as tall as the Empire State Building and a full 15 times higher than Niagara Falls. Jimmie was a larger-than-life character, an experienced bush pilot and gold prospector, who accidentally discovered the falls in 1933 and named after him in 1937.

Much has been written about Jimmie or perhaps not enough. A true adventurer, if Indiana Jones was real and would have traveled to Venezuela back in the day; they would have been friends and most likely would have shared adventures together. Jimmie would probably have flown Indy into the jungle and be right next to him searching for gold in the lost world. At least that is what I would like to believe.

Jimmie Angel (James Crawford Angel) was born in Springfield, Missouri in 1899. An avid pilot from an early age, he flew with James Lindberg's Flying Circus in 1921. That same year he made his first trip to Venezuela.

It is said that in 1921, Jimmie met J.R. McCracken, an Alaskan geologist and prospector at a bar in Panama. Jimmie only 22 years old at the time had a reputation that he could “land a plane on a dime”; he was hired by JR for $ 5000 for his services. With this money he bought his plane a Bristol Monoplane or Flamingo G2W, not sure which of the two, I have found info on both, either way he named his plane "El Rio Caroni". The two set about planning a trip to a destination and a destiny of which only McCracken had a clue to. They landed on a mysterious mountain top where it is said that JR found several pounds of gold nuggets in a river, more or less 70 lbs, the amount varies. JR died shortly after that with the exact location of the mysterious mesa mountain top, for some reason Jimmie did not recall the location. From this point, Angel's obsession with finding this mountain top began. This is one of the mysteries behind Jimmie and his wonderful stories.

He spent the next years organizing various attempts to find the river of gold again, centered on Auyantepuy (which means "Devil Mountain"), but never found the gold again. It was during one of his expeditions in 1933 that he found “Angel Falls” (Location: 05º58´N / 62º30´W).

Angel Falls … One of the natural wonders of the world, plummeting some 3212 feet to be exact, known by the Indians of Venezuela for thousands of years. It is believed that Sir Walter Raleigh may have heard tales of it from the locals he encountered on his quest for El Dorado and more recently, the famed Venezuelan explorer Ernesto Sánchez La Cruz, reportedly discovered it back in 1910. But the falls was named after Jimmie for he introduced it to the modern world.

It is thought that the adventures of Jimmie Angel, at least in part, inspired the making of the movie “The Lost World” from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s book back in 1925. Another notable influence of the lost world is supposedly that the movie King Kong drew much from both the area and the ethereal nature of this wonderful place. True or not ? Who knows but I’d like to believe it so.

On December 8, 1956 in Gorgas Hospital, US military facility in Balboa, Canal Zone, Panama, Jimmie died.

According to Jimmie’s father, Jimmie was in poor health in his later years. On April 17th his plane crashed. He apparently seemed fine from the crash but later he had a light stroke but he got better. Then shortly after he had another stroke that made him unconscious, he remained unconscious until his death. After 8 months of hospitalization he died on December 8.

His death certificate listed his occupation as “Explorer”. 

In 1960 Marie (wife) and his 2 sons Jimmie & Rolan took Jimmie home to Venezuela and Angel Falls. On his last flight over the falls he was accompanied by his good friends Gustavo Heny & Patricia Grant. Heny told his sister Carmen that “when the plan came into the canon you couldn’t see anything, it was so cloudy, then something happened. It was so clear, so beautiful, we could see everything. It was like the mountain was receiving something from out of this world – it was Jimmie.”

Well my friends, I hope you enjoyed this little bio on Jimmie Angel. As I have mentioned before I do not consider myself a writer, so yes I did take quotes directly and indirectly from the sources listed below and put them together in my own way. If you’re interested in reading more regarding Jimmie I highly suggest checking out Karen Angel’s site, she is Jimmie’s niece. This site has his complete story in greater detail and makes great reading on Jimmie.

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