Jimmie Angel

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.[1][2][3]

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

(1899-08-01)August 1, 1899
DiedDecember 8, 1956(1956-12-08) (aged 57)
Gorgas Hospital, Balboa, Canal Zone
OccupationPilot, explorer
Known forDiscovering Angel Falls, 16 November 1933

Early lifeEdit

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,[4] however the only certainty is that he registered for the Draft Sept 12, 1918.[5][6][7] In his 20s he adopted the nickname Jimmie by which he was known for the rest of his life.[1] In April 1928 while en route to Cape Horn he was in hospital at Nogales.[8]

Angel FallsEdit

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.[9]

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.

Jimmie Angel's aircraft, El Rio Caroní, exhibited in front of Ciudad Bolívar airport
Jimmie Angel's aircraft, El Rio Caroní, exhibited in front of Ciudad Bolívar airport (front view)


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.[1] His living relatives consist of his grandson, his granddaughter, one great-grandson, and five great-granddaughters.


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.

External linksEdit


  1. ^ a b c Angel, Karen. "The History of Jimmie Angel". Archived from the original on 16 March 2010.
  2. ^ "Plane Pilot Sights Highest Waterfall in World." Popular Science, April 1938, p. 37.
  3. ^ Angel, Karen (2012). "Why the World's Tallest Waterfall is Named Angel Falls". Terrae Incognitae. 44 (1): 16–42. doi:10.1179/0082288412Z.0000000003.
  4. ^ The Truth About Jimme Angel by Karen Angel..
  5. ^ The Aerodrome
  6. ^ A check of the Missouri Soldiers database for World War I has no listing for a James C. Angel at Missouri database
  7. ^ A 1921 picture of Angel in Uniform shows him wearing Military Aviator Wings see Jimmy Angel Historical Project website Archived 2010-03-16 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ Calexico Chronicle, Volume XXIV, Number 217, 25 April 1928 accessed October 15,2018
  9. ^ George, Uwe (May 1989). "Venezuela's Islands in Time". National Geographic. Vol. 175 no. #5. p. 549.

Angel's Flight - The Life of Jimmie Angel - American Aviator-Explorer - Discoverer of Angel Falls, 2019, by Karen Angel.