Cocking's parachute descent, 24 July 1837.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Two coloured lithographs showing the ascent of the balloon and Cocking's fatal parachute descent. Robert Cocking was a profesional watercolourist and amateur scientist, who spent many years developing an improved design for a parachute after witnesing Garnerin's parachute descent in 1802. On 24 July 1837, Cocking arranged a trial of his invention from the Vauxhall Gardens in London. The parachute, which took the form of an inverted cone connected by three hoops, was attached to Charles Green's 'Royal Vauxhall' balloon, piloted by Green and Edward Spencer. When the balloon reached 5000 feet (1524m), Cocking released his parachute. Tragically, it failed due to a mechanical error, and Cocking died shortly after hitting the ground.