Ferdinand von Zeppelin


Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin
German Army General and founder of the Zeppelin airship company

“It’s only natural that no one should back me up, because no-one dares to take a leap in the dark. But my goal is clear and my calculations are correct.”

July 1838
Konstanz, Grand Duchy of Baden, Germany

Death/death place:
March 1917
Berlin, Germany

Isabella Freiin von Wolff

Born into German nobility, the Count was educated by private tutors until he left for polytechnic school and later military school. He advanced steadily in engineering knowledge and in military war service to the rank of General Lieutenant. The Count came to America as an official observer with the Union Army during the American Civil War. He visited a Union observation balloon camp and later made his first ascent in a tethered balloon at  St. Paul Minnesota peaking his interest in balloon-flight. After leaving the Army, the 52 year old Count devoted his full attention to developing rigid airships. His first, LZ 1, flew in July 1900. The Count faced and overcame continuous financial roadblocks but eventually more than 130 LZ’s were built.

Designated as LZ’s these were a series of 600-700 foot long, rigid, steerable, silver, sausage-shaped, engine-powered, hydrogen-filled balloons.

: Jim Masal
Jim is a former Registered Respiratory Therapist. While not a degreed teacher he has 20 years and thousands of hours of teaching experience of that trade in college, hospital and public settings. He is also a commercially rated pilot with instrument, multi engine and sailplane ratings. Since licensed in 1965, he has more than 3,000 hours of flying time as pilot in command of a large variety of small aircraft. He has built his own aircraft approved by the FAA and is working on another. He has acted in several college plays and has played the FOFM’s Count von Zeppelin for several years. 


  • The Count’s interest in aeronautics began on a visit to the US during the American Civil War.
  • His LZ 1 first flew in 1900.
  • During WW1 Zeppelins were used to frequently bomb England.
  • Zeppelins were used in numerous passenger carrying services between Germany and the US and to South America.
  • Zeppelin popularity ended with the 1937 New Jersey Hindenburg disaster.

The Graf Zeppelin was a hydrogen airship built by Germany over the years 1926, 1927 and 1928.


  • Zeppelins were used in the first large-scale and long-distance and successful passenger carrying service.
  • A Zeppelin successfully flew a group of dignitaries around the world.

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