GUSTAVO “CABUYA” HENY
© Heny/JAHP with Enrique Lucca Collection. Gustavo Heny with Kamarakoto Pemón, 1937
Venezuelan Gustavo “Cabuya” Heny met Jimmie and Marie Angel in Ciudad Bolivar in 1937. Because of his tall, slender physique, Heny was called “Cabuya,” which means String in English. Heny was a noted woodsman and explorer. According to Heny's niece Carmen Dearden, he was intrigued by Angel’s reputation as an aviator-explorer and the adventure of the expedition rather than the lure of gold. Jimmie Angel immediately liked Heny and trusted him. The trust was shared and Heny accepted Jimmie’s invitation to join the expedition to land on Auyántepui. Heny agreed to be the leader of the expedition should they need to abandon El Rio Caroni on Auyántepui.
The Dawn of 9 October 1937
“When the day cleared on 9 October, 1937 everything was ready. The takeoff occurred without problems at 11:20 AM, arriving in 15 minutes at the plateau, which was over flown for a few minutes before starting to land. I could not conceal the emotions caused by the present daring against the Great Unknown of landing without problems on Auyantepuy. So prepared was Jimmy to do this, that once he had aligned the plane with the selected track where the terrain was favorable, he “CUT” the motor, magnetos and set all the switches to ”OFF”; the lot had been cast....The “Flamingo” gently began brushing the surface with its three wheels – in a position perfect for a three point landing - and leaving a trail with its tires among the little grassy humps but each time sinking a little deeper because of the decreasing speed and loss of lift from the wings.
Everyone remained eloquently silent until a voice was heard. It was the voice of Gustavo Heny who, from the depths of the cabin, shouted ‘Pull out Jimmy...pull out...
Coincident to the alert, the plane took a small jump prior to dropping onto much softer terrain and this grabbed the front landing gear and with the inertia raised the tail, burying the nose cone up to the propeller shaft and it remains in that position as if to say: ‘Auyantepui, in your presence I am overcome...’
It was 11:45 AM.”
Gustavo Heny to Enrique Lucca Lineas, April 1970 Spanish to English translation by John DeCoup-Crank
At first, the landing appeared to be perfect, but the wheels broke through the sod and sank into the mud bringing the airplane to an abrupt halt with a broken fuel line and the airplane’s nose buried in the mud. Two days later, when it became clear that there was no gold to be found and that El Rio Caroni was hopelessly mired in her muddy landing spot, the expedition members started their long eleven day walk from the plateau. As planned should the aerial part of the expedition for gold encounter trouble, Heny led the Angels with the assistance of Delgado down from the Auyán-tepui plateau to their camp in Kamarata Valley at the base of Auyán-tepui.
Gustavo Heny maintained his friendship with Jimmie and Marie Angel. He accompanied Marie and Jimmie’s two sons Jimmy and Rolan on the flight to scatter Jimmie’s ashes over Angel Falls on 2 July 1960. He died in Caracas, Venezuela 19 October 1982.
Karen Angel © JAHP 2010 For additional history, references and bibliography, please see Research Papers