Handbill advertising Gypson's grand balloon ascent, 3 July 1847.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A printed handbill advertising Richard Gypson's 68th balloon ascent from Saffron Walden, Essex, on Saturday 3 July 1847. On this ascent Gypson released a parachute containing a live animal. Three days later on 6 July, Gypson made a near fatal night ascent with the young aeronaut, Henry Coxwell. The balloon ascent from Vauxhall in London was accompanied by fireworks to entertain the crowds. However, the burning fireworks below the car gave the effect of continuous discharge of ballast and the balloon ascended too quickly. A large tear appeared in the envelope and caused a rapid descent, curbed only by Coxwell cutting the cord holding down the neck of the balloon. If the escaping gas had been ignited by the fireworks on board, the aeronauts would almost certainly have died.