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Charles Green (1785-1870)

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Charles Green (31 January 1785 – 26 March 1870) was the United Kingdom's most famous balloonist of the 19th century.

He experimented with coal gas as a cheaper and more readily available alternative to hydrogen for lifting power. His first ascent was in a coal gas balloon on 19 July 1821. He became a professional balloonist and had made 200 ascents by 1835.

Supposedly, he had become interested in coal gas as a means of shop lighting.

1822 Ascending from Cheltenham, accompanied by a Mr Griffith, someone partly severed the ropes which attached the car to the balloon, so that the car broke away from the balloon; Green and Griffiths had to take refuge on the hoop of the balloon, in which position they had a perilous journey and were both injured on landing in a tree.

1836 Green constructed the Royal Vauxhall balloon for Gye and Hughes, proprietors of Vauxhall Gardens, from whom he purchased it in 1840 for £500.

1836, he set a major long distance record in the balloon "Royal Vauxhall", flying overnight from Vauxhall Gardens in London to Weilburg, Duchy of Nassau (Germany) a distance of 480 miles: this record was not broken until 1907.

1837 The Royal Vauxhall was renamed The Great Nassau ; it ascended from Vauxhall Gardens on 24 July 1837, with Green accompanied by Edward Spencer and Robert Cocking. At a height of 5000 feet Cocking freed himself from the balloon and descended in a parachute of his own construction into a field on Burnt Ash Farm, Lee, but was unfortunately killed. The balloon (after a frightening rise out of control owing to the loss of weight) came down the same evening near Malling, Kent, and it was not until the next day that Green heard of the death of his companion.

By the time he retired in 1852, he had flown in a balloon more than 500 times. His son continued making balloon ascents.

1870 he died suddenly of heart disease at his home in Holloway, London on 26 March 1870.


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