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Donald Haack, 78, diamond expert, adventurer, author and founder of Donald Haack Diamonds & Fine Gems in Charlotte passed away peacefully on Sunday, March 1, 2009
Diamond Memoirs
Jimmy Angel
James Crawford Angel, a bush pilot born in Sringfield, Missouri on August 1, 1899.
Angel Falls, in Venezuela's Canaima National Park, take their name from Jimmy Angel. His first sighting of the falls was in the mid-1930s, but his reports were dismissed as too fantastical.
It wasn't until he crash-landed his plane there in 1937 and had to walk back to civilization - a trip that took 11 days - that his reports were taken seriously.
Jimmy Angel died in Gorgas Hospital in Panama on December 8, 1956, following a landing accident in David, Panama. According to his last wishes, he was cremated and his ashes scattered over Angel's falls... travel/main.jhtml?view= DETAILS&grid=&xml=/ travel/2004/11/08/ etangelfalls0711.xml
Flying With Jimmy Angel
by Donald Haack

(Georgetown, British Guiana, 1956. My rancher friend, Caesar Gorinsky invited me to meet a “friend” in the Hotel Tower bar.)
Caesar: “No, Danny, thank you. Someone is waiting for us in the back. Send someone to take care of us.”
Caesar motioned for me to follow. There were candles on the tables. We walked to the corner where a man stood up from a table. He recognized Caesar and they shook hands. He wasn’t tall, but he had a stout build and the face of a determined and tenacious bulldog, highlighted by a slightly pockmarked bulbous nose. The gravely voice matched the bulldog effect.
“Hi, understand you’re a bush pilot. Done a little bush flying myself. Nice to meet you. Name’s Angel, Jimmy Angel,” and stuck his big fist out to shake.
I had seen pictures of him in books and photographs. This was an older version, but I was completely taken aback to know I was seeing him in the flesh. I assumed he was dead. The transition from ghost to real person took a couple of seconds. We shook hands. He was plenty alive with a powerful handshake to prove it.
(Excerpted from Bush Pilot in Diamond Country)
There were many books written about gold or diamond mining in South America and almost every one included tales of the adventurous promoter and legendary bush pilot, Jimmy Angel, first white discoverer of Angel Falls, the world’s highest waterfall. The stories described his wild flying exploits, plane crashes—fifteen in all—and his uncanny ability to walk away from each one. More exciting were his tales of gold nuggets and diamonds he found while trekking back to civilization. These were thought-provoking stories for adventure seekers but somehow Angel never found those riches in his effort to retrace the trails back to his plane crashes.
He was a legend. Most of his flying took place in Venezuelan diamond and gold territory south of the Orinoco River. His tales of wealth inspired many a prospector to criss cross the jungle trying to find Angel’s trails and treasures. His stories not only flourished but were continually embellished by the prospectors.
I felt a connection to Angel because of my daily flights over those same uncharted territories. Over the years there were fewer stories about him and recently so few that I concluded he had one plane crash too many.