As we have seen, Jimmie's life was full of adventure, risk and thrills.
It was also plagued by bad bussiness deals, made up adventures, prosecution
by governments and individuals, but we have also seen that there was
a humane, kind side to this adventurer.
While he might have not been the first person to actually "discover"
the falls that now bear his name, he was instrumental in communicating
their existence to the world. His name is forever linked to this region
of Venezuela, and although not many people can explain while the falls
are named so, his memory will remain in the history of the region,
the aviation lore of Venezuela, and in the magnificent water falls
that he "accidentally discovered, while searching for gold."
His life, that seemed to move between the heroic to the credible to
the unbelievable, was also immortalized in "Icaro," a novel written
by Alberto Vasquez Figueroa.
* Sources and Credits This article began as an afterthought; I was
discussing my favorite theme, aviation history, with a good friend,
Dr. Roberto Buitrago, one night in the Lower Rio Grande Valley in
Texas. Dr. Buitrago is a man of vast knowledge, wisdom and blessed
with a great sense of humor. He can discuss Mozart and then jump and
talk with you about the economy and then without missing a beat, will
play a practical joke on you.
When he mentioned that he had met a famous aviatior named Jimmy Angel,
my attention was immediately drawn to his statement, since as a coincidence,
I had been collecting some material to write some day, about the person
I thought had discovered the world's tallest water fall. Little by
little I began to collect more material, so I will thank Dr. Buitrago
first, not only for providing me with his first person experiences
regarding Jimmie Angel, but also for having been such a good friend.
Gracias, Roberto! Vos sos la pura vida!!!!
Then, as is usually the case, I sent an e-mail to my mentor, friend
and example to follow, Dr. Gary Kuhn. I had already copied some material
from his personal aviation archives, and I had enough to write an
article for LAAHS. Dr. Kuhn came through, as always, with not only
additional information, but also with a good picture of the restored
And then, to clinch the support, he provided me with the information
and means to contact, Mr. Alfredo Schael, from Venezuela. Mr. Schael
is a newspaper columnist. He has been working for a long time, on
a book on Jimmie Angel. He has accumulated many pages of data, evidentiary
support of so many things related to the life of Jimmie. The best
part is, that I only had to write an e-mail to him, and shortly thereafter,
Mr. Schael had generously provided me with close to 90 pages of his
documents. This kind of generosity is typical of those great men,
like him and Gary Kuhn, who are interested in furthering the knowledge
of Latin American Aviation. To you, Mr. Schael, and to you Gary, my
most sincere thanks.
Through the good offices of Gary Kuhn, I was able to obtain a good
deal of information from Russ Plehinger. Russ is the moving force
behind "AeroStatz," an aviation research service, specializing in
air racing, and air records for the period of 1920 - 1939. He presents
in great detail, information regarding long distance and endurance
flights, which were a very important part of aviation during the 1920s
and 1930s. Characteristically unselfish, he shared his wealth of data
with me. Russ, I owe you one.
As in any research work, there are many sources consulted and many
bits of data that the writer chooses to include or not on his work.
After considering different approaches, I chose to use the one you
have just finished reading, in order to try to present to our readers,
a more human look at the life of a man that albeit controversial,
was nonetheless one of the great pilots, explorers and human beings,
warts and all, that have graced the skies of Latin America.
* Documentary Sources - News Services Articles: Angel Takes Off on
25,000 Mile Hop: Associated Press, April 17, 1928 Pilot to Continue
25,000 Mile Flight: Associated Press, April 23, 1928 Aviator, Cape
Horn Bound, is in Guaymas: April 25, 1928 "A Pioneer of one of the
few air routes yet unexplored: Jimmie Angel and two companions from
San Diego, Cal., on the first lap of their flight down through Central
and Southern America to Cape Horn." Photo Caption from Times Wide
World Photos, dated April 29, 1928 "Girl Stowaway in Plane Ends Endurance
Flight." New York Sun, Monday, December 15, 1930 "Ancient: Jimmie
Angel looks over some old relics he gathered on a 3,000-mile aerial
exploration trip in the remote sections of Mexico. He is shown at
Los Angeles airport with his stuff, which includes armor which some
Conquistador may have worn." Photo caption from International Newsreel
Photo, as appeared in the Washington Herald, Saturday, December 5,
1931. "U.S. Plane Feared Down on Ocean." Newark Ledger, Saturday,
January 30, 1932. "U.S. Mercy Flier Lost in Venezuela" "Angel was
taking a woman to Hospital from Remote Region." Special Cable to The
New York Times February 6, 1942. "Jimmy Angel Reported Safe on Venezuela
Flight." "Missing pilot and party of six Land at Ciudad Bolivar."
UP wire service, February 7, 1942 . "Jungle Flyer." The Sun February
Dr. Roberto Buitrago's recollections of Jimmy Angel. McAllen, Texas,
The Bush Pilots. The Epic of Flight Series. Time Life Books ISBN 0-8094-3309-5
The Flying Hobo and the Eight Wonder of the World. Cavalier Magazine
article, by George Scullin published August 6, 195?
From newspaper articles, by Bert Williams: Jimmy Angel Loved Teo Kop's
Big Airplane. They Don't make adventurers like they did. The Tico
Times San Jose, Costa Rica 19 December, 1986
"Angel on Silver Wings" By John R. Holl The Americas Magazine August,
"Angel's Secret" By Paul R. Eversole Nr. 11, South American Explorer
Jimmy Angel Insight Guides: Venezuela 2nd Edition, 1996
Letter dated St. Pat's Day, 2001 from Mr. John Underwood to Dr. Gary
Letter from Ralph Lopez, a Spaniard to Dr. Gary Kuhn dated April 25
1946 Memoria de (la Secretaria de) Guerra, Marina y Aviacion. Nicaragua.
Quauhtli, an Aviation Magazine published in Mexico. Issue #3, 2001
Article written by Manuel Ruiz Romero.
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To find out more about aviation history in Latin America, visit the
The Lost World -- Venezuela's Gran Sabana and Canaima National Park