Ferdinand von Zeppelin, German inventor

Ferdinand von Zeppelin, German inventor

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Credit: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin (1838-1917), German inventor of the airship. Von Zeppelin conceived the idea of confining the hot air balloon, first developed in 1783, within a cigar-shaped aluminium structure, and providing the airship with an internal combustion engine and a propeller. The first flight of the von Zeppelin dirigible took place on 2 July 1900. The cotton-covered balloon was 128 metres long. Between 1900 and 1939, 52,000 people travelled a total of 2 million kilometres in such airships. The accident of the Hindenburg dirigible, which burst into flames in 1937, brought the fashion for airships to an end.

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