Ferdinand von Zeppelin – industrialist, officer and engineer

Ferdinand von Zeppelin – industrialist, officer and engineer

On July 8, 1838, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin was born, a German industrialist, military officer and engineer, after whom the type of airship zeppelin was named.

Zeppelin was born in a former Dominican convent near the city of Constance on the shores of Lake Constance, ie in the extreme south of today’s German territory. Nevertheless, his Zeppelin family originated from northern Germany, from the Mecklenburg area and the West Pomerania. The family was named after the town of Zepelin (spelled with one p), located about 30 kilometers from the shores of the Baltic Sea. There, members of the Zeppelin family acquired aristocratic status in the Middle Ages.

The Zeppelin family had moved to the Württemberg area and other parts of southern Germany several generations before Ferdinand. They were given high offices and the title of Count, so that Ferdinand von Zeppelin was born as the son of the Minister and Court Marshal of Count Friedrich von Zeppelin.

The name Zeppelin remained immortalized by Ferdinand’s achievements in the field of airships. Namely, during his military career, the count became acquainted with the possibilities of reconnaissance balloons, which prompted him to build a new type of aircraft, a rigid airship with a metal skeleton, which was later named after him. After buying the project of the Croatian designer D. Schwarz, he managed to build a series of aircraft called LZ1, LZ2, etc. The project attracted a lot of attention from the public and the authorities, so it was not difficult for him to raise funds. At one time it was even believed that airships would become more popular than airplanes, but of course this did not happen.

Interestingly, Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH in Germany still exists today.

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