Jimmy Angel

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Jimmy_AngelJames Crawford Angel was born in Springfield, Missouri on August the 1 1899, and he was a Canadian Pilot in the First World War.

Back at that time people were often affected by the wars. The United States had a very great urge for entertainment, television and movie theaters were too primitive and there was a fascination of most people on mankind's ability to fly these machines, with this it is easy to imagine how much emotion and fun a stunt pilot provided to people and Jimmy loved that, he loved to be around people, even if it meant to risk too much.

He worked with Charles Lindbergh at his Flying Circus as a stunt Pilot, which adds to the fact that he was a daring, good pilot. 

In 1921 J.R. McCracken, a Geologist and Explorer, knowledgeable of geological formations and with a strong desire to explore one of the most fascinating lands then discovered and unexplored hired Jimmy for a trip to “The Lost world”. The interesting fact is that he hired a man who was a war and stunt pilot, obviously McCracken was well aware of the skill level needed for the mission.

Now that we look back in time, McCracken was well aware of the Tepuys, and the incredible age of the land which he could only imagine, it was all too obvious for a geologist to think that in a land eroded since the beginning of the planet it would be very hard to land and this is specially true on top of a Tepuy, who’s surface would be extremely eroded. This is why he asked Jimmy if he was the one who could land on a dime, and that was the point, the mission was a hard landing only a stunt pilot could make.

McCracken paid 3000$ dollars, which was a respectable amount back then and with the advance payment he bought a used plane. Little did he know of the challenge he was facing.  To have an idea of how difficult it would be observe the following picture of the top of a Tepuy:

This added to the fact that in the middle of nowhere in a lost land deeply covered with thick, dense jungle it was almost impossible to land on the ground. The takeoff would be even harder to achieve because no part is totally flat and even if  there was, mud and irregular terrain would be a problem. Another fact is that the fuel added weight and while looking around or just evading the clouds the plane can run out of fuel with nowhere to land.

Some say that they landed on a Tepuy, got gold out of one and returned. It is doubtful, probably they over flew the area, impressed by the fantastic sight and returned back to Ciudad Bolivar. The nuggets could be purchased there as well. But anyway, the fact is that the return to that "gold mountain" became the myth behind Angel's true mission, his mission.

Flying over some dull city back at his country was boring, many pilots as well, not much to do in a plane other than get faster to some place or do stunts. Canaima proved to be a spectacular sight, a true paradise for a pilot, feeling his talent cross thick, dense tropical rainforest, seeing things no man has seen before, probably feeling like Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. He simply loved the place, enchanted by the awesome beauty of the unique ancient lands.
Several people helped fund his trips in search for gold and his gold mountain, probably taking tourists or geologists on the way thus becoming the first charter plane on the area.

In 1930 he flew twice to the Auyantepuy, the largest of the tepuys with over 700 square km. Dick Curry, a mining engineer was his passenger. He could not land on the top of the Auyantepuy this time.

The Auyantepuy, has a canyon that reaches it's center. Inside it is the Angel Falls. Even if Angel had seen the Auyantepuy, it was in 1935 when the waterfall was first seen. This time Case Pomeroy Co. financed an expedition to the top of the Auyantepuy. James Angel, Durant C. Hall and L.R. Dennison, both representatives of the company landed in the Kamarata Valley on March 25, 1935, discovered the canyon and saw the “waterfall that was coming directly from the sky.

Jimmy got married in 1937 and with his wife Marie Sanders, Joe Meacham (an owner of a night club in Arizona) and the help of the Venezuelan Gustavo Heny (Explorer who had explored the area before) he flew to the Auyantepuy to make his greatest stunt, to land on top of the Auyantepuy and return home. The small plane did land, but the terrain was too harsh for takeoff, Jimmy had to leave his plane behind, only to trade it for his place in history. It took him 11 days to get back to the camp at Kamarata and leave using the Carrao River, without his plane and almost starved in the middle of unexplored lands.

In 1942 Angel got lost in the tropical jungle, and several planes were sent to find him. Now here is the point one can appreciate how daring and a good pilot Jimmy was, several planes were sent to search for him, many crashed into the jungle, lost or without fuel, there were no airstrips like nowadays

For the loss of those pilots, and for his repeated unauthorized flights and excursions he was declared a unwanted person and his permision to be in Venezuela was suspended.

Jimmy Angel died in Panama on December 8, 1956 at the Gorgas Hospital, his last wish being that his ashes return to Angel Falls, and so it was conceited.

Written by :
Henrik Linde
 
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