Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin

Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin

Probably hardly a shape of aviation history is part of as many legends as Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin. He was born on July 8, 1838 in Konstanz at the Bodensee. He was educated at the Ludwigsburg Military Academy and the University of Tübingen. He entered the Prussian army in 1858 and went to the United States in 1863 to work as a military observer for the Union army and observed the Civil War. Zeppelin served in the Franco-German War of 1870-1871; he retired in 1891 with the rank of brigadier general. It was quite usual in his noble and high-decorated family, that he chose a military career. And later explored the headwaters of the Mississippi River, and made his first balloon flight while he was in Minnesota . And on August 7, 1869, he was married to his wife Isabe. His military career, however successful, did not run. He, along with others, at that time preferred modern opinions over combat tactics, which brought his career into conflicts with the military authorities. In the age of 52, he was prematurely retired in 1890 for his criticism of the Prussian war office, giving him free time to work on his airship ideas.
Zeppelin now finally found the time to concern himself with his visions to the topic of "Lenkbare Luftschiffe" or "guidable airships". This idea had always pursued him in the last 20 years. It was particularly the success of the airship LA FRANCE, which had very much impressed Zeppelin. In a letter to his king, Zeppelin referred, particularly, to the possibilities of the military use of this technology. A meeting with the military authorities, following on it, did not bring good results for it. The authorities over-estimated the problem of air resistance as substantially higher than it really was.
Only in the year 1892, the concrete work on the project began. With the assistance of his engineer, he set up a construction plan for an airship in a period of 2 years. It is to be marked that Zeppelin had no concrete development realizations, or physical data. When he wanted to present his new construction in 1894 to the military officials, it ended in a clear reject. Particularly, the low rate of the missile was criticized.
In 1886 an electrolytic process by which aluminum could be produced in commercial quantities was invented almost simultaneously by Paul Heroult in France and C. M. Hall in the US. The introduction of this light, strong metal during the next few years opened up new possibilities for designers of lighter-than-air craft. One of whom was Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin. The design used by Zeppelin was a tubular aluminum frame, but instead if covering it with sheets of metal, he made a fabric cover not intended to be gas-tight. The gas was enclosed in bags in compartments of the hull separated by transverse aluminum girders.
In the year 1895 its missile under the designation "Luftzug" or "draft of air" was patented. One year later the VDI (Verein Deutscher Ingenieure or association of German engineers) was convinced of the plans of Graf Zeppelin. The association started a campaign for the support of Zeppelin?s projects. Thereupon, Zeppelin created in January 1898, the "Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Luftschiffahrt" (society for the promotion of the Air-Navigation). From this point on, the development preceded rapidly. In 1899, the first bug rings were already installed. In the spring of the same year, the building of the legendary "schwimmenden Halle" (swimming hall) began in one cell with Friedrichshafen. A young engineer named Ludwig Dürr led the assembly of the first Zeppelins.
Zeppelin had spent nearly a decade working on his dirigible prior to his flight in 1900. The ship was known as the LZ-1 and was 128 meters long and resembled a sausage shaped balloon. It was created by combining the aerodynamics of kites with the aerodynamics of a balloon. Built in a floating shed on Lake Constance near Friedrichshafen, LZ-1 had two passenger cars and two 14.7-horse-power gasoline engines. From the hangar on the Bodensee, a raft was pulled, on which the LZ-1 was situated. A short time later, the ship rose into air. The first flight should take 18 minutes. "Count von Zeppelin, a stout 62-year-old ex-cavalry commander with a white walrus mustache, twinkling eyes and a white yachting cap perched on his round