On January 31, 1785, Charles Green was born, who was 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. In 1836, Green 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 770 km. This record was not broken until 1907.
Charles Green joined his father’s business after school. His very first ascent in a balloon possibly took place in London around 1821 at the coronation of George IV. It is believed that several hundred ascents followed this event and that he ascended in August 1828 at Beckham in Kent. Green designed and constructed the Great Nassau balloon in the mid-1830s and made the first ascent from Vauxhall Gardens. It is assumed that he was accompanied by eight people and remained in the air for one hour before descending near Gravesend.
The famous flight from Vauxhall Gardens to Nassau, Germany took place in 1836 as well. They took off at 1:30pm and crossed the channel from Dover just a few hours later. Green and his passengers descended again at the bext day around 7am in Germany. They traveled a distance of 500 miles in a total time period of 18 hours. This record remained unbeaten until 1907 and Green was accompanied by Monck Mason and Robert Hollond, who financed the adventure.
In January 1837, Green climbed with Robert Cocking to a height of 5,000 feet, from which Cocking jumped over Lee with a parachute of his own design and died on impact on the ground. In 1938, Green conducted two altitude test flights in Vauxhall Gardens with George Rush, who paid for the flights, and Edward Spencer. On the first flight an altitude of 19,335 feet was reached with landing in Thaxted. On the second flight with only two persons (Green and Rush) and coal gas in the Great Naussau Balloon a record was to be set so that a height of 27,146 feet was reached. In 1841 Green flew together with Charles Frederick William, duke of Brunswick, from Hastings to Neufchâtel in five hours. In 1846 he suggested a balloon flight over the Atlantic Ocean. Green’s last flight took place in 1852.
More than 10 years earlier, Green introduced coal gas as a cheaper substitute for hydrogen, which was put in practice by many following balloonists. It is believed that Charles Green planned an Atlantic crossing in a balloon, but he never attempted it. Around 1840, Green incorporated presumably the first mechanically driven propeller ever to power an aircraft.
At yovisto, you may learn more about the ‘History of Ballooning’.
References and Further Reading:
-  Charles Green at Britannica
-  The American Aviation Experience: A History
-  Charles Green at Wikidata
-  Thomas Hood: Ode to Messrs Green Hollond and Monck Mason on their Late Balloon Expedition
-  British Balloon and Airship Club, Charles Green Salver
References and Further Reading:
- Att Articles related to Aviation
- August von Parseval`s Airships
- André-Jacques Garnerin and the First Parachutes
- Around the World in a Balloon