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Rigid airship of a type originally manufactured by Luftschiffsbau-Zeppelin
and consisting of a cigar-shaped, trussed, and covered frame
supported by internal gas cells.
The first Zeppelin airship was designed by Ferdinand, Graf
von Zeppelin, a retired German army officer, and made its initial
flight from a floating hangar on Lake Constance, near Friedrichshafen,
Germany, on July 2, 1900. Beneath the 420-foot (128-meter) craft
a keellike structure connected two external cars, each of which
contained a 16-horsepower engine geared to two propellers. A
sliding weight secured to the keel afforded vertical control
by raising or lowering the nose, while rudders were provided
for horizontal control. The craft attained speeds approaching
20 miles per hour (32 km/h).
During World War I the Germans achieved moderate success in
long-range bombing operations with the zeppelin-type rigid airship,
which could attain higher altitudes than the airplanes then
available. On two occasions during 1917, German Zeppelins made
flights of almost 100 hours' duration. Such performances led
many people to believe that large airships would play a prominent
part in aviation development. A number of Zeppelins were distributed
to the Allied countries as a part of postwar reparations by
[ see: The
Zeppelins The Development of the Airship, with the Story of
the Zepplins Air Raids in the World War by CAPTAIN ERNST
A. LEHMANN and Howard Mingos ]
Of many subsequent zeppelins, the two most famous were the
Graf Zeppelin, completed in September 1928, and the giant Hindenburg,
first flown in 1936.
The Graf Zeppelin inaugurated transatlantic flight service,
and by the time of its decommissioning in 1937 had made 590
flights, including 144 ocean crossings, and had flown more than
1,000,000 miles (1,600,000 km). In 1929 the craft covered about
21,500 miles (34,600 km) in a world flight that was completed
in an elapsed time of approximately 21 days.
The Hindenburg, 804 feet (245 metres) long, was powered by
four 1,100-horsepower diesel engines, giving it a maximum speed
of 84 miles per hour (135 km/h). In 1936 this airship carried
a total of 1,002 passengers on 10 scheduled round trips between
Germany and the United States.
On 6 May 1937, while landing at Lakehurst, N.J., on the first
of its scheduled 1937 trans-Atlantic crossings, the hydrogen-inflated
Hindenburg burst into flames and was completely destroyed. Of
the 97 persons aboard, 35 died -- 22 crewmen and 13 passengers.
An additional person on the ground as part of the landing crew
died in the tragedy as well.
The direct cause of the tragedy remains unknown. The fire was
generally attributed to a discharge of atmospheric electricity
in the vicinity of a hydrogen gas leak from the airship. There
is speculation that the dirigible was the victim of an anti-Nazi
act of sabotage.
The Hindenburg disaster marked the end of the use of rigid
airships in commercial air transportation.
In 1940, the LZ127 and LZ130 were dismantled, ending the golden
era of thegreat passenger ships. The Zeppelin airship works
were destroyed by Allied bombing during World War II, and building
of the huge rigid airships was never resumed.
In 1997, the first Zeppelin NT took flight. As of February
2003 three of the Zeppelin NTs are flying.
It is possible to book flights via Deutsche Zeppelin Reederei:
€ 335,00 - € 370,00 per person.
Tell them I sent you. They'll look at you strangely :)
- Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei GmbH
- Allmansweilerstrasse 132
- D-88046 Friedrichshafen
- Telefon: +49 (0) 75 41 / 59 00 - 0
- Telefax: +49 (0) 75 41 / 59 00 - 499
Centennial of Flight Commission: The Zeppelins