Angel Falls and Jimmie Angel’s Plane

Thursday, 22nd October 2009 by

New writer: Noel Ballantyne Noel is from Sligo, NW Ireland. He is a very active member of the GE BBS forums, and loves to travel, especially to concerts when band’s tours do not visit Ireland.

A common topic of conversation for most kids in school goes along the following path: “What is the tallest/smallest/fastest/slowest/most expensive?” etc. I think you know what I’m on about.

“What is the biggest waterfall in the world?” I was asked recently. After much discussion about widest, tallest, flow of water etc., we settled on the tallest.

The tallest waterfalls are the Angel falls with a height of 979 m (3,212 ft) and a clear drop of 807 m (2,647 ft), which are located in the Canaima National Park1 in the Gran Sabana region of Bolivar State, Venezuela. Unfortunately the resolution in Google Earth is poor to say the least.

AngelFalls-1

However at Ciudad Bolívar airport in Venezuela we can see Jimmie Angel’s plane. Jimmie Angel is the first Westerner accredited with seeing the falls in 1933. In 1937, Jimmie and his 3 passengers set off in his Flamingo monoplane “El Rio Caroni” to land atop of the falls.

JimmieAngelsplane-1

Well, it was more a crash land actually, where the wheels became bogged down in marshy ground and flying home was no longer an option. An 11-day hike gave the adventurers worldwide fame and the falls were subsequently named after Mr. Angel.

In 1970 the Venezuelan military disassembled the plane and it was re-assembled in the city of Maracay’s aviation museum. A replica of the plane sits on top of the falls themselves.

Angel got all the fame for discovering the falls, but there are 2 others also in the picture. Sir Walter Raleigh is claimed to have discovered the falls on an expedition to find El Dorado in 1594. In 1910 or 1912 Ernesto Sanchez La Cruz, a Venezuelan explorer, is also said to have discovered the falls – in fact some texts actually credit Jimmie Angel as the rediscoverer. Another first goes to Aleksandrs Laime2 from Latvia who was the first to reach the falls on foot.

There’s some stunning photos of the falls on Flickr, and further history on Wikipedia.


  1. A UNESCO World Heritage site. 

  2. Laime also believed that dinosaurs existed in the table top mountain.