In November 1933, Jimmie Angel, an American bush-pilot, discovered a magnificent waterfall in the middle of a dense forest in the hilly area located in Venezuela, a country in South America. He saw the waterfall while flying his Flamingo-type monoplane, although his purpose for flying to that area was to find an ore bed. The beauty of this natural wonder left him stunned. Because he was the first to discover the amazing waterfall, Angel Falls was eventually named after him.
Waterfalls are rated on the basis of their height from where the water initially falls as well as the volume of water that it has while it cascades. Considering both these criteria, Angel Falls is indeed a splendid and marvelous sight because it cascades for nearly one kilometer. The water drops through 979 meters or 3,212 feet high cliff. At certain times of the year, the waterfall is not visible, as its higher-end is often concealed by thick clouds. Another interesting fact about Angel Falls is that it is said to be three times taller than the Eiffel Tower of Paris.
Jimmie Angel and His Monoplane
After discovering the Angel Falls in 1933, Jimmie Angel decided to visit it again on October 9, 1937, with the intention of landing on top of it or near it. He used the Flamingo-type monoplane once again and brought along with him his friend Gustavo Heny, Heny’s gardener Miguel Delgado, and Angel’s wife Marie. Jimmie Angel was successful in landing his plane near the waterfall, but unfortunately, its wheel became stuck in the mud, so they weren’t able to use the plane for take-off.
Because of the unfortunate event, Jimmie and his crew have to trek rough terrain to reach a nearby town. They were able to survive for 11 days with low food supply before reaching a settlement located in Kamarata. However, a fortunate thing about the incident is that their crazy attempt at landing on the waterfall gained widespread attention, and it eventually led to scientific explorations to study the Angel Falls a few years after.
Angel’s monoplane stayed at Angel Falls until 1970 when it was successfully recovered and disassembled by military helicopters owned by the Venezuelan government. That plane is currently displayed in its reassembled form in the MuseoAeronáutico de Maracay, an aviation museum handled by the Venezuelan Air Force and is considered to have the largest collection of planes, weapons, and documents related to aviation in the country. A copy of Jimmie Angel’s plane can be seen at the airport in Ciudad Bolívar.
Jimmie Angel was not able to see his famous monoplane brought down on Angel Falls, as he died on December 8, 1956, due to complications on his head, heart, and lungs. His head injury occurred on April 17, 1956, when he attempted to land his plane at David, a city in Panama. Because of the unsuccessful landing, Angel suffered a severe head injury that hindered him from performing complex tasks. Because his body was beginning to weaken, he would subsequently have heart attacks for eight months after the plane incident, but it was his developing pneumonia that killed him in December.
Angel was cremated, and his remains were given to the Portal of the Folded Wings Shrine to Aviation in the city of Burbank, California. However, his wife, along with his two sons and two of his closest friend, got a hold of his ashes on July 2, 1960, and scattered it over Angel Falls, as this was Jimmie Angel’s wish.
There were many attempts to change the name of Angel Falls, but the most popular one was proposed in 2009 by the then-president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez. In the proposal, Chávez made the intention to change the name of Angel Falls into a term appropriate to the indigenous people living near the waterfall. He named it “KerepakupaiVená,” which means “waterfall of the deepest place.” He argued that Angel Falls should not have an English name and should not be named after an American, as it was speculated that the Pemon, the said indigenous people, were the ones who discovered it first. Chávez would soon change his stance on changing the name of Angel Fall, although he insisted that his people should use the name “KerepakupaiVená” to honor the Pemon.
Today, Angel Falls serves as one of the most popular tourist attractions in Venezuela, although visitors would need to take a flight from Puerto Ordaz or Ciudad Bolivar for them to reach the waterfalls. The tour guides would often conduct river trips on Angel Falls from June to December, as these are the months where the attraction is more visible. In the other months, particularly June to March, there is not much water that drops down from the top of Angel Falls, which made it less attractive for tourists to see. If you are planning to visit the falls soon, be sure to go there in the right month so you can have a better view of the natural wonder.