Fascinating facts about Ferdinand
von Zeppelin inventor of the rigid dirigible in 1900.
AT A GLANCE:
On July 2, 1900 the first rigid dirigible (zeppelin) made its maiden
flight. It carried
five persons; it attained an altitude of 1300 ft and flew a distance of
3.75 miles in 17 minutes. The success of
this and future military and civilian Zeppelins were to have a lasting effect on
airpower strategists and Ferdinand Graf Zeppelin will always be remembered
for the graceful mammoths of the sky which he pioneered.
Adolf August Heinrich von Zeppelin, (Count)
to patent. First practical. Entrepreneur.
1838 in Konstanz, Baden, Germany
1917 in Berlin, Germany
||noun / dir·i·gi·ble
||A large dirigible
balloon consisting of a long, cylindrical, covered framework
containing compartments or cells filled with gas, and of various
structures for holding the engines, passengers, etc.
||621,195 (US) issued
March 14, 1899
1838 Ferdinand von Zeppelin born in Konstanz, Baden, Germany
1858 After Ludwigsburg Military Academy and University of Tübingen he
enters the Prussian Army
1863 Assigned to America during the U.S. Civil War, flies balloon for
1864 Returns to Germany with a keen interest in human flight
1869 Marries Isaballa Freiin von Wolff, who bears him a child ten years
1887 Ppblished a comprehensive plan for a civil air transportation
1891 Retires from the Prussian Army as a brigadier general
1897 Zeppelin files U.S. patent application for a Navigable Balloon
1899 Zeppelin awarded patent for Navigable balloon
1900 On July 2, first rigid dirig8ble (zeppelin) flies carring five
passangers a distance of 3,75 miles
1908 A zeppelin airship provided the first commercial air service for
1917 Zeppelin died on March 6, in Berlin Germany
CAPS:Zeppelin, Ferdinand von Zeppelin,
Ferdinand Adolf August Heinrich von Zeppelin, Graf Zeppelin, Ferdinand
Graf Zeppelin, Hugo Eckener,
ARY, zeppelin, dirigible, rigid dirigible, airship, navigable
balloon, SIP, history, biography, inventor, invention.
Ferdinand von Zeppelin was the inventor of the rigid drigible
or airship balloon. He was born July 8, 1838, in Konstanz, Baden, Germany, and
educated at the Ludwigsburg Military Academy and the University of Tübingen.
He entered the Prussian army in 1858. Zeppelin went to the United States in
1863 to work as a military observer for the Union army in the American Civil
War and later explored the headwaters of the Mississippi River, making his
first balloon flight while he was in Minnesota.
He returned to Germany at the end of the war with a
keen interest in balloon flight
and devoted himself to the design and construction of airships..
He married, in 1869, to Isaballa Freiin von Wolff from Livonia; they had a
daughter, Hella, born in Ulm in 1879. In 1887, he published a
comprehensive plan for a civil air transportation system based on large
lighter-then-air ships. Zeppelin retired
from the army in 1891 with the rank of brigadier general.
He subsequently founded an airship factory at Friedrichshafen using his own
funds. Zeppelin proceeded to devote the remainder
of his life to the design and construction of engine-powered dirigibles.
He completed his first
rigid dirigible in 1900. This ship had a rigid frame
and served as the prototype of many subsequent models. The first zeppelin airship
consisted of a row of 17 gas cells individually covered in rubberized cloth; the whole was
confined in a cylindrical framework covered with smooth surfaced cotton cloth. It
was about about 420 ft long and 38 ft in diameter; the hydrogen-gas capacity totaled
399,000 cu ft. The ship was steered by forward and aft rudders and was driven by two
15-hp Daimler internal-combustion engines, each rotating two propellers. Passengers, crew,
and engine were carried in two aluminum gondolas suspended forward and aft. At its
first trial, on July 2, 1900, the airship carried five persons; it attained an altitude of
1300 ft and flew a distance of 3.75 miles in 17 minutes.
Despite many setbacks,
Zeppelin continued his research and in 1908 he established at Friederichshafen the Zeppelin
Foundation for the development of aerial navigation and the manufacture of airships.
That same year, one of his airships provided
the first commercial air service for passengers.
Zeppelins were making routine commercial mail and passenger flights over
Germany, with a remarkable safety record despite the risks in using highly
flammable hydrogen gas to inflate the airships. Up until 1914 the German
Aviation Association (Deutsche Luftschifffahrtsgesellschaft or DELAG)
transported nearly 35,000 people on over 1500 flights without an incident.
During World War I, zeppelins were used in German air raids over Britain and
France but were found to be vulnerable to antiaircraft fire.
Zeppelin aircraft were effectively removed from front line service at Verdun
in 1916, as improved Allied aircraft succeeded in achieving a higher
destruction rate. Even so, newer models were introduced that could fly
higher and higher, although this impacted their bombing accuracy. Their use
was more or less discontinued in 1917 as Allied bombers demonstrated a
consistent ability to destroy the airships.
Count Zeppelin died March 8, 1917, before the end of World War I. He
therefore did not witness either the provisional shutdown of the Zeppelin
project due to the Treaty of Versailles or the second resurgence of the
zeppelins under his successor Hugo Eckener.
After the war
they were widely used in commercial flights. However, safety problems that led to
accidents, including the crash of the Hindenburg in 1937, brought on the end of the
The Zeppelin qualities of streamlined-shape, light rigid framework, and
maneuvering power, made them successful when heavier than air machines were
yet undeveloped. His quest for a light metal led directly to the invention
of Duraluminum, which was to later make the all-metal airframe practical.
The Entrepreneur from The Great Idea Finder
Transportation History from The Great Idea Finder
ON THE BOOKSHELF:
The History of Science and Technology
by Bryan Bunch, Alexander Hellemans / Hardcover: 768 pages / Houghton Mifflin Company; (2004)
Highly browsable yet richly detailed, expertly researched and indexed,
The History of Science and Technology is the perfect desktop reference
for both the science novice and the technologically advanced reader
Germany and the Airship, 1900-1939
by Guillaume De Syon / Hardcover: 295 pages / Johns Hopkins Univ Press (December 2001)
These phenomenal rigid, lighter-than-air craftthe invention of Ferdinand Graf von
Zeppelin (1838-1917)approached the size of a small village. Although they moved
slowly, there was no mistaking their excitingor ominouspotential.
The Great Dirigibles: Their Triumphs and Disasters
by John Toland / Paperback: 352 pages / Dover Publications; Revised
edition (June 1, 1972)
The story of the Great Dirigibles)is sure to please even the most
knowledgeable airship reader. Toland investigates the origins of airships
and includes many of the pre-Zeppelin era narratives. The book is full of
first hand accounts and includes an excellent index and an acknowledgement
section (which will be of interest to serious readers)
Zeppelins: German Airships 1900-40
by Charles Stephenson, Ian Palmer / Paperback: 48 pages / Osprey
Publishing (July 25, 2004)
On 2 July 1900 the people of Friedrichshafen, Germany, witnessed a momentous
occasion - the first flight of LZ 1, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin's first
airship. Although deemed a failure, a succession of better craft (LZ2 to 10)
enabled the Zeppelin to expand into the consumer market of airship travel,
whilst also providing military craft for the German Army and Navy.
ON THE SCREEN:
DVD / 1 Volume Set / 50 Minutes / History Channel / 73282 / Less than $25.00
They are among the most romantic machines ever built, enormous craft
held aloft by lighter-than-air gas trapped beneath their vast skins. In
the 20th century, they have played a vital role in war, transportation
and commerce?and been involved in one of the most famous tragedies of
ON THE WEB:
This web site gives you a place to begin learning, both the history and the
future, of Zeppelin airships.
First World War: Who's Who
Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin (1838-1917) was born in Konstanz, Baden on 8
April 1838 and was the first large-scale builder of the rigid dirigibles
which eventually became synonymous with his name.
The Zeppelin Museum brings all aspects of the history and technology of
airship flight to life. Here you may experience the great dimensions of the
"Giants of the air".
Centennial of Flight
Zeppelin died on March 8, 1917 in Berlin, Germany.
After the war, they were used in commercial flights until the crash of the
Hindenburg in 1937.
From the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission
International Aerospace Hall of Fame
Pioneer Airship Designer, Born Kostantz, Baden, Germany. Inducted into Hall
of Fame in 1975.
Aviation History (Timeline)
From the Montgolfier Brothers construct the first lighter-than-air
vehicle (a balloon) in 1873 through 2003 and the celebration of Aviation
first century. Special consideration to Charles Lindberg at the
Foundation Web site that bears his name.
In 1898 Zeppelin, with a team of 30 workmen, had assembled his first airship. The
main principle of Zeppelin's invention was that hydrogen-filled gas-bags were carried
inside a steel skeleton.
The blimp tradition began in 1925 when Goodyear built its first
helium-filled public relations airship, the Pilgrim. The tire company
painted its name on the side and began barnstorming the United States.
Humble beginnings to an illustrious history.
Airship and Blimp Resources
The main focus is on contemporary
development, rather than history. Explore this site and you will see why
airships are destined to a bright future.
AIRSHIP: DJ's Zeppelin
Provides photographs of and ephemera from airships . Maintained by Daniel J.
Association - the only worldwide body catering solely for people interested
in powered lighter-than-air aviation.
WORDS OF WISDOM:
"All of the biggest technological inventions created by man -
the airplane, the automobile, the computer - says little about his
intelligence, but speaks volumes about his laziness." - Mark Kennedy
DID YOU KNOW?
- The Zeppelin Airships still fly today. The newest was built in
- In modern common usage,
zeppelin, dirigible and airship are used interchangeably for any
type of rigid airship, with the terms blimp or airship alone used to
describe non-rigid airships.
- In modern technical usage,
airship is the term used for all aircraft of this type with zeppelin
referring only to aircraft of that manufacture and blimp referring
only to non-rigid airships.
- Graf is a title, translated as
Count, not a first or middle name. The female form is Gräfin. When
"Graf" or its translation "Count" is used, it is correct to omit the
"von." Thus, "Ferdinand von Zeppelin," but "Graf Zeppelin."
trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.
Reference Sources in BOLD Type.
This page revised September 12, 2006.
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