Biography of the founder

You just have to want and believe in it, then it will succeed.
Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin
Historical old man with binoculars
© Archiv der Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH

1838
8 July, Count Ferdinand Adolf Heinrich August von Zeppelin is born in Constance as son of the court marshal Count Friedrich von Zeppelin and his wife Amélie (née Macaire).

1853
18 October, move with his tutor Robert Moser to Stuttgart-Cannstatt. Attendance of the upper class of the secondary school and after two semesters transfer to the local polytechnic school. Decides, following the family tradition, for an officer's career.

1858
20 September, appointed Lieutenant in the 8th Infantry Regiment in Stuttgart with simultaneous command to the General Quartermaster Staff. Main task there in the topographical and administrative area. October 21, leave of absence for studies. In Tübingen, he studied mechanical engineering and chemistry in addition to political science.

1859
Prussia mobilized during the Austro-Italian war, so Zeppelin had to stop his studies. Transfer to the engineering corps in Ulm.

1863
On leave as a military observer of the Secession War in the USA. 19 August, first ascent in a captive balloon with Professor Steiner in Saint Paul (Minneapolis). November, return from America.

1865
10 April, command in the adjutancy of King Charles I of Württemberg with the determination to wear the uniform of the king's aides. One year later promotion to captain and appointment as adjutant of the king.

1869
7 August, marriage to Isabella Freiin von Wolff from Alt-Schwanenburg (Livonia). Wedding ceremony in the Saint-Matthäi-Church in Berlin.

1870
At the beginning of the war, Count Zeppelin led a famous ride behind the French lines to explore troop movements, and this so-called Schirlenhof ride made the name Count Zeppelin known for the first time. He took part in the Franco-German War as a cavalry and general staff officer. During the war, he observed how balloons were used on the French side to clarify and secure the connection between the besieged Paris and the hinterland. 

1874
25 April, Zeppelin's first entry in his diary about the idea of building a rigid airship.

1879
28 November, birth of daughter Helena (Hella) Amalie Marie Henriette Karoline, Countess of Zeppelin, in Ulm.

1885
29 September, after a long time as regimental commander, appointed as Württemberg Military Plenipotentiary in Berlin.

1891
Start of idea evaluation via a steerable airship. 23 June, first patent application by Count Zeppelin for a steerable aircraft (code: P.A. No. 38010), which is withdrawn.

1895
Another patent application registered in 1898 in the "Sport" class.

1896
6 February, lecture by Count Zeppelin in Stuttgart at the Württembergischer Bezirksverein des Vereins Deutscher Ingenieure (VDI) in the presence of King Wilhelm II of Württemberg on "Designs for steerable aircraft". Zeppelin becomes a member of the VDI. A commission evaluates his project positively.

1898
28 June, foundation of the shares company Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Luftschifffahrt, based in Stuttgart. Executive Board: Engineer Hugo Kübler, Commercial Director: Ernst Uhland. Of the 800,000 german mark in share capital, Count Zeppelin alone subscribes 441,000 german mark.

1900
July 2nd, launch of the first steerable airship LZ 1 in Manzell on Lake Constance. Despite the airship's technical reliability, there is little interest in continued financing. The stock corporation is liquidated as the capital is used up.

1905
Count Zeppelin finally financed the construction of his second Zeppelin airship with the proceeds of a money lottery. Prussia transfers 50,000 marks, Daimler supplies engines for a new airship, Carl Berg supplies aluminium parts free of charge, the Ministry of War provides gas cylinders.

1906
17 January, ascent of the airship LZ 2, which is destroyed by a hurricane at the landing site in Kißlegg in Allgäu.
9 October, first testing of the LZ 3, the construction of which had become possible through the use of Zeppelin's family assets.

1908
4 August, start of the LZ 4 to the 24-hour trip Friedrichshafen – Mainz – Friedrichshafen.
5 August, accident near Echterdingen, near Stuttgart. After the emergency landing due to engine damage, the airship was hit by a thunderstorm and burned. Subsequent "Zeppelin donation by the German people" generates almost 6.5 million german mark in a short time.
8 September, foundation of the company Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH, Managing Director Alfred Colsman.

1913
8 July, celebrating the 75th birthday of Count Zeppelin.
23 September, foundation of Zeppelin-Wohlfahrt GmbH in Friedrichshafen. During the First World War, the Zeppelin Group and its subsidiaries underwent decisive expansion.

From 1914 until 1918, 101 zeppelin airships flew around 5,000 war missions for the navy and army. Losses: 72 zeppelin airships.

1917
8 March, Count Zeppelin died after a surgery in Berlin-Charlottenburg.
12 March, burial in the Prag-cemetery in Stuttgart.