Green, Charles

Green, Charles
b. 31 January 1785 London, England
d. 26 March 1870 London, England
English balloonist who introduced the use of coal gas for balloons.
Charles Green lived in London at a time when gas mains were being installed to supply coal gas for the recently introduced gas lighting. He was interested in the exploits of balloonists but lacked the finance needed to construct a balloon and fill it with expensive hydrogen. He decided to experiment with coal gas, which was very much cheaper, albeit a little heavier, than hydrogen: a larger balloon would be needed to lift the same weight. Green made his first ascent on 19 July 1821 to celebrate the coronation of King George. His large balloon was prepared in Green Park, London, and filled from the gas main in Piccadilly. He made a spectacular ascent to 11,000 ft (3,350 m), thus proving the suitability of coal gas, which was readily available and cheap. Like many balloonists, Green was also a showman. He made ascents on horseback or with fireworks to attract spectators. He did, however, try out some new ideas, such as cemented fabric joints (instead of stitching) for a huge new balloon, the Royal Vauxhall. On its first flight, in September 1836, this impressive balloon carried Green plus eight passengers. On 7 November 1836 Green and two friends ascended from Vauxhall Gardens, London, to make a long-distance flight. They landed safely in the Duchy of Nassau, Germany, having covered a record 480 miles (772 km) in eighteen hours. To help control the height of the balloon on this flight, Green fitted a long, heavy rope which trailed on the ground. If the balloon started to rise, then more of the "trail rope" was lifted off the ground, resulting in an increase in the weight to be lifted and a reduction in the rate of ascent. This idea had been suggested earlier by Thomas Baldwin in 1785, but Green developed it and in 1840 proposed to use if for a flight across the Atlantic: he later abandoned this plan.
Charles Green made over five hundred ascents and died in bed at the age of 85, no small age for a balloonist.
Principal Honours and Distinctions
Member of the (Royal) Aeronautical Society, founded in 1866.
1836, Authentic Narrative of the Great Balloon Voyage and Descent in Germany, London (a pamphlet).
Further Reading
L.T.C.Rolt, 1966, The Aeronauts, London (provides a full account of Green's achievements).
J.E.Hodgson, 1924, the History of Aeronautics in Great Britain, London.
T.Monck Mason, 1838, Aeronautica, London.

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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