Percival G. Spencer

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Percival Green Spencer
Born(1864-11-11)11 November 1864
Islington, London, England
Died11 April 1913(1913-04-11) (aged 48)
Highbury, London, England
NationalityUnited Kingdom
OccupationManager of balloon manufacturer
Known forPioneer aviator
Spouse(s)Mary Ann Coleman
Childrenfour daughters and one son

Percival Green Spencer (11 November 1864, Islington, London, England – 11 April 1913, Highbury, London[1]) was a British pioneering balloonist and parachutist.

Spencer was part of the third generation of a family of professional balloonists. He was the eldest son of Charles Green Spencer (1837–1880), who was the son of Edward Spencer (1799–1849).[1] Edward Spencer, a solicitor, was a friend and trusted assistant of the noted balloonist Charles Green,[2] ascending with Green 27 times and soloing 40 times.[1] Charles Spencer founded the balloon manufacturing firm of C. G. Spencer & Sons.[1] All five of Percival's siblings also followed the family profession.[1] He and his brothers Arthur (1866–1940) and Stanley (1868–1906) were considered the leading authorities on ballooning.[3]

Percival first ascended in a balloon at the age of eight with his father over the Crystal Palace.[3] In a November 1909 letter to the editor of Flight magazine, he claimed to have made eight "Cross-Sea Balloon Voyages", often with passengers.[4] His February 1898 crossing from England to France, accompanied by Pearson's Magazine journalist George Griffith, was reported in The New York Times.[5]

On 19 March 1889, he made the first successful balloon flight in India.[6] Ram Chandra Chatterjee took lessons from him and flew with him on 10 April,[7] becoming the first Indian aeronaut to fly solo later that same month.[8]

The same year, Spencer was the first to parachute safely in Ireland, at Drumcondra.[9]

Family life[edit]

Spencer married Mary Anne Coleman in 1892. They had four daughters and a son. His wife died in 1905. Spencer died at his home at Aberdeen Park, Highbury on 11 April 1913, after contracting bronchial pneumonia.[10]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Spencer, Percival Green". Who's Who of Ballooning. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  2. ^ Bacon, J. M. The Dominion of the Air: The Story of Aerial Navigation. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Mr. Percival Spencer. The Most Famous Balloonist in the World". Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  4. ^ Spencer, Percival. "To the editor of FLIGHT". Flight (27 November 1909): 770.
  5. ^ "From England to France" (PDF). The New York Times. 28 February 1898.
  6. ^ "Airmail". State Bank of Pakistan Museum. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  7. ^ Amitabha Ghosh (1992). Indian Journal of History of Science. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ Abhijit Gupta (2 August 2010). "First solo balloon flier". The Telegraph (Calcutta).
  9. ^ "Irish GA spotlight". Flight International (28 March). 1981.
  10. ^ "Mr. Percival Spencer". The Times. 12 April 1913. p. 11.