Green, Charles 1785 - 1870

Charles Green (1785-1870) was a British balloonist. His first flight was in 1821 and was the first to take place in a balloon filled with coal-gas. During this flight, Green found himself in trouble and had to be rescued by his friend Francis Cheesman who was captaining a passing ship and used his bowsprit to pierce the silk balloon and release the gas. After this, Green made a further 526 flights using coal-gas.

In 1836, Green constructed the Royal Vauxhall balloon in which he went on to set a major long-distance record, flying overnight from Vauxhall Gardens in London to Weilburg, Duchy of Nassau (Germany). Shortly after, he went up again, with once instance resulting in the death of his companion, Robert Cocking, after he liberated himself from the balloon in a handmade parachute. Green later made two more experimental ascents in the Royal Vauxhall, the second for the purpose of ascertaining the greatest altitude that could be attained with the Great Nassau balloon inflated with coal-gas and carrying two persons only; reaching 27,146 ft. In 1852, he made his last public ascent from Vauxhall Gardens.

Green can be credited with being the first balloonist to prove that coal-gas was needed for the inflation of balloons. Before this, pure hydrogen was used in balloons. Not only was pure hydrogen very expensive, it also evaporated very easily. It was also slow to generate which meant that it took two days to fill a large balloon. Green was also the inventor of the "guide-rope", a rope trailing from the car, which could be lowered or raised by means of a windlass and used to control the ascent and descent of the balloon.