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Thread: Jimmy Angel's Nicaraguan exploits

  1. #1
    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Default Jimmy Angel's Nicaraguan exploits

    This is the guy who discovered the world's highest waterfall, Angel Falls, in Venezuela:

    During the 1940s, and using Nicaraguan Pilot's license No. 122, Jimmie operated an airline, "SIDA" (Servicios Interamericanos de Aviacion) in Nicaragua. Jimmie sold his interest in this airline, in May or June of 1945, to Jack Baker and Neal Hampten. This airline had the backing of the U.S. government, since during the World War II years, the U.S. was interested in promoting the production of natural rubber, a strategic material that was in high demand for the war effort, and so,

    Angel also produced several films documenting the production of rubber (balata, hevea) in Nicaragua. Angel purchased a Hamilton Airplane, (c/n 62), NC-854E. The transaction was registered to James Crawford Angel of Coral Gables, Florida and Caracas, Venezuela. This airplane suffered an accident in Honduras, on 20 September 1943. It was then transferred to TACA in Tegucigalpa. The remains of the aircraft were sold then to Servicio Interamericano de Aviacion (SIDA) in Managua, Nicaragua, to be used as spares source for their Hamilton which in turn, had also been acquired from TACA.

    From October of 1945 through January of 1946 Jimmy Angel had a working contract with United States based Compañía Hulera (Rubber Company). Then he gained an interest in the Tropical Air Transport company, which began operating on 1 February, 1946. Angel and Baker flew there the Vultee V1-AD, AN-ABI; The V1-A "Special" (s/n 25) was built in 1936, and was powered by a Wright R-1820-66 engine; this particular airplane was originally registered in the United States as NC-16099, and was later on registered in Panama, before the beginning of World War II, as RX-19; then Angel and Baker flew it in Nicaragua, as we have seen above. The airplane went back to Panama, and was registered as RX-158, and when the Panamanian registration system changed, it was re-registered as HP-158. It was saved from oblivion, and returned to Pueblo, Colorado USA, and then as NC-16099 now survives in the Virginia Aviation Museum located in Richmond, Virginia; it has been painted to represent the "Lady Peace," a Vultee Special flown round trip across the Atlantic Ocean in 1936, by Dick Merrill and Harry Richman. It is the only example of the V1-AD surviving anywhere in the world.

    Angel also flew a Lockheed Vega (c/n 66) AN-ABL, from 1944 until it crashed at Boaco, Nicaragua, on 19 February 1945. My good friend, Dr. Buitrago said, during an interview conducted in McAllen, Texas on 23 August, 2000:

    "Long after Jimmie Angel discovered the now called Angel Falls, in Venezuela, I met him. I was about six years old, so it must have been around 1943. He came to pick up my dad and me, to our house in Managua, very early in the morning. He was driving a small truck, so I rode in the truck's bed, while my dad rode in front with him."

    "We went to Managua's Xolotlan airport, which was back then a grass covered landing strip, and flew to Esteli, where my dad had been a physician, and we went there for a day visit. We flew on a Ford Tri-motor, and Jimmie Angel was our pilot."

    "As I remember him, he was short of stature and skinny, his hair was almost white, and I remember that on the back of his neck, his skin was very wrinkled. I remember that the airplane had passenger-like seating, but with one seat only on each side of the aisle; there was no door between the passenger area and the cockpit, so I could see Jimmie Angel, flying the airplane. I also remember peering out and down one of the windows, and seeing the main landing gear wheel, spinning in the airstream, while we were already airborne . . ." Buitrago.

    While in Nicaragua, Angel and his wife had a son, and they named him Jimmy. Twin sons were born in Costa Rica, in 1948, but only one, Rolan, survived. Some time during his flying life, Jimmie suffered one of so many aviation accidents, but this one was different, since fire broke out in the cockpit upon crashing, and although he managed to walk alive from the wreck, his face would be forever marked with the scars from that fire.

    With the family growing, the children needing a stable place to live, dictated that Jimmie and his family returned to the United States, during 1954. They settled in Santa Barbara, California, and lived there for two years. Ralph Lopez, a Spaniard from Bilbao, who worked throughout Central and South America as an inspector for OACI/ICAO, and was chief of Maintenance for AVIANCA in the 1950s, wrote about Jimmie Angel:

    "Now comes to mind my old buddy Jimmie Angel; that s.o.b. nailed me for a couple of grand in a venture seeking gold in C.R. (Costa Rica) and the goddammed equipment sunk in some river or another. The bastard also nailed me along with a bunch of other guys from LAV-Venezuela, in a Kaolin mine in Venezuela (terribly expensive stuff to make high class plates and cups). Could do nothing about the whole deal as the &^%#@ killed himself in a Push-Pull Cessna 337 in Panama . . . I guess we were all crazy bastards in those days and would spend almost complete nights boozin' in a cat house talking and arguing about airplanes . . . "

  2. #2
    Viejo del Foro El Greco's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jimmy Angel's Nicaraguan exploits

    Great story
    Dios es Amor!

  3. #3

    Default Re: Jimmy Angel's Nicaraguan exploits

    Great read!! Fly-boys were nevah said to be perfect, just adventurous and of steady nerve. Salute to old Jimmy.

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