Ascent of the Vauxhall Balloon and Mr. Cocking's Parachute
- c. 1837
Conditions Governing Use
Access to the Theodore Newton Vail Collection of Aeronautical Images, Broadsides and Clippings is not authorization to publish. Separate written application for permission to publish must be made to the Institute Archives. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection.
Biographical / Historical
Robert Cocking (1777-1837) was a watercolor painter and amateur scientist who was inspired to design and launch a parachute after witnessing André-Jaques Garnerin’s 1802 parachute descent. His design, an inverted cone-shaped parachute, was heavily influenced by Sir George Cayley’s article On Aerial Navigation (1810). On July 24 1837, Cocking and his invention were attached to the Royal Nassau (or Vauxhall) balloon, piloted by Charles Green with Edward Spencer, as it made an ascent from the Royal Gardens at Vauxhall in London. When the balloon reached a height of 5000 feet, Cocking called out "Goodnight Spencer, goodnight Green" and the parachute was released. However, it failed to operate as planned, crumpling rapidly and crashing within three minutes. Cocking died very shortly after his fall. Following the fatal accident, several aeronauts, including Charles Green, made ascents to benefit Cocking's widow.
Language of Materials
Existence and Location of Originals
4 items; 23.8 x 7.6 cm (Nassau clipping) 13.2 x 7.6 cm (Cocking clipping) 12.7 x 16.7 cm (in air illustration) 19.9 x 12.6 cm (page fabrics attached to)
Two images of the Nassau Balloon with Robert Cocking’s parachute attached, one image of Cocking in the basket of the balloon, and two pieces of fabric attached to a page, presumably pieces of Cocking's parachute and/or balloon, collected as keepsakes.
Sources used for Biographical/Historical note
Hodgson, J.E., History of Aeronautics in Great Britain (Oxford University Press, London, 1924), 331-334.
Rolt, L.T.C., The Aeronauts (Walker and Company, New York, 1966), 127-130.
- Balloonists Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Balloons (aircraft) Subject Source: Thesaurus for Graphic Materials
- Cocking, Robert
- Parachutes Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Souvenirs (Keepsakes) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Textile fabrics Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- clippings (information artifacts) Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
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