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Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin

Erfinder und Erfindungen
Inventors and Inventions

Biographie - Biography

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Ferdinand Zeppelin was born on July 8, 1838 in Konstanz on the German shores of Lake Constance (der Bodensee, bordered by Austria, Switzerland and Germany). Zeppelin entered the Prussian army, and as a young military officer, he visited America in the midst of the Civil War to brush up on his military science. Later, Graf (Count) von Zeppelin would invent the rigid-frame airship (das Luftschiff) in Friedrichshafen, Germany. The LZ1 made her maiden voyage on July 2, 1900.

In the 1930s, the U.S. Navy bought a Zeppelin and renamed it the "Los Angeles." But airships proved to be more successful at passenger transport than in military use. Zeppelins made round-the-world cruises and were running regularly scheduled flights between Europe, South America and the U.S.

The Zeppelin era came to a sudden end with the Hindenburg disaster in Lakehurst, New Jersey on May 6, 1937. The Hindenburg (LZ129) had departed Frankfurt am Main on May 3 with 97 passengers and crew aboard. While landing in Lakehurst, the explosion of the hydrogen-filled airship killed 36 people. The captain of the LZ129, Max Pruss, was one of the survivors, but neither he nor anyone else could say for certain what caused the tragedy. (Pruss died in 1960.) Modern theories lean towards lightning or static electricity and the Zeppelin's highly flammable outer coating (not the hydrogen itself) as the cause.

Today's reborn Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH hopes to open a new Zeppelin era with its smaller transport, the Zeppelin NT. Test flights began in 1997. (See the link below for current information.)

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Zeppelin Links

The Web site for the museum in Zeppelin's hometown of Friedrichshafen, Germany. Site in German or English.

The Web site for the Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH, developers of the new model. Also in English.

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The history of the Zeppelin's invention. In English.

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