For a while, he worked as a barnstormer, test pilot, stunt pilot and flight instructor before heading south to
Over time, the celebrated folklore surrounding Jimmie Angel made it difficult to separate myth from reality. Unverified stories that he taught himself fly when he was 14, that he was a Royal British Flying Corps Ace in World War I, that he created an air force for a Chinese warlord in the Gobi Desert or that he worked as an aviation scout for Lawrence of Arabia all became part of the legend.
Among the accounts, which intensifies the mystery, involves an American geologist known only as McCracken who met Angel in a smoke-filled bar in
Some say that part of McCracken’s deal did not allow Angel to use instruments so the pilot could not return by himself later. Using only hand signals, the mysterious stranger directed Angel to the river where they removed as much gold as possible and still be able to take-off.
McCracken never returned to
In November 1933, while flying a solo flight in the canyons of
One reason for the skepticism was the seasonal nature of many waterfalls, and the Auyántepui rising from the neighboring
Finally, in the spring of 1935, Angel convinced three other explorers to fly an expedition into the canyon to verify his claim and take pictures.
L.P. Dennison published the adventure in 1942 in a book titled
Wrote Dennison, “’Now I will show you my waterfall!’ shouted Jimmie with glee!”
When he spotted the falls himself, Dennison was in awe. “I could only stare in amazement. It looked like an immense rope hanging over the canyon wall, and it fell for all of 3,000 feet, possibly more, without interruption until it spread out into a billowy cloud of fine, fluffy mist.”
Now vindicated, Angel and his wife, Marie, flew his beloved Flamingo airplane, named El Rio
Still seeking his “golden river” in 1937, Angel intended to land on Auyántepui for some exploration on foot. Though the landing went smoothly at first, El Rio Caroni hit soft ground and nose dived into a layer of mud causing a broken fuel line.
Fortunately, in anticipation of problems, Angel had parachuted supplies to the area before attempting the landing. Despite being well equipped, the trip back to civilization required an arduous 11-day trek by the four-person expedition.
Jimmie Angel died in 1956 at the age of 57 from a cerebral hemorrhage resulting from the complications of a head injury when loose cargo struck him while landing earlier in the year.
Seven years earlier, in 1949, World War II correspondent and photojournalist, Ruth Robertson led the first successful land expedition to
Travelers interested in retracing the steps of Ruth Robertson can do just that on a special tour from June 27 to July 4, 2014. The program is being handled by Angel Ecotours and you will find more information at www.angel-ecotours.com
In 1964, the Venezuelan government declared El Rio Caroni a national monument. It was dismantled by the Venezuelan Air Force in 1970 and partially restored and reassembled by the
Though the airport in
Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in
Inquiries for groups can be made at Peabod@aol.com Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others.
As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 71 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries. He also played professional baseball for four years and was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte.
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