James James Crawford Angel (born Springfield, Missouri, USA, August 1, 1899 – December 8, 1956) was an American aviator after whom Angel Falls in Venezuela, the highest waterfall in the world, is named.
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 16 November 1933 while searching for a valuable ore bed.
On 9 October 1937, Jimmie Angel 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.
Jimmie Angel 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 occupants 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, Angel received near-legendary status in Venezuela.
His aircraft remained atop Auyantepui until 1970, when it was disassembled into parts and lifted down by Venezuelan military helicopters. Today a 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. A replica of the Flamingo plane sits on top of the falls.
Angel died in Panama in 1956 from injuries received from a flying accident. Respecting his last wishes, four years later his sons returned to the waterfall, scattering his ashes over it.