The zeppelin, long and cylindrical, was a majestic sight in the air, but a catastrophic sight when it fell and burned with a great loss of life. The zeppelin's creator was Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin (1838-1917), a German army officer who visited the United States during the Civil War to see the balloon operation of the Union forces. He carried a letter of introduction to Abraham Lincoln in his right pocket and a letter to Robert E. Lee in his left pocket, just in case he should be caught by the Confederates. Some say that he served a stint in the Union Army. Zeppelin made balloon ascents in St. Paul, Minnesota, inspiring him to devote himself to balloons that could be steered and driven by power. In 1900, after thirty years of experimentation, he was able to fly a zeppelin (now so called) for twenty minutes. He thereupon founded the Zeppelin Company, which produced during its lifetime about a hundred aircraft. His goal was to convince the German government of the practicality of these balloon-type airplanes during wartime. His persuasive powers and his demonstration of zepplins were effective; the German government agreed that these airships had military value. During World War I, Zeppelin built many zeppelins, some used to bomb Paris and London. But these dirigibles, as they came to be called, were slow-moving and poorly maneuverable. They were not an important factor in the German military.
   In 1891, Zeppelin retired from the German army with the rank of general. Thereafter, he devoted himself to his primary interest—the making of dirigible airships of rigid construction. Zeppelin died in 1917, twenty years before his zeppelin the Hindenburg went up in flames on May 6, 1937, at the Naval Air Station, at Lakehurst, New Jersey, killing 36 of the 97 persons aboard. It was a grave moment for the zeppelin, which shortly thereafter became obsolete.

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.

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  • zeppelin — [ zɛplɛ̃ ] n. m. • 1907; du nom du constructeur, le comte de Zeppelin ♦ Grand dirigeable rigide à carcasse métallique que les Allemands construisirent de 1900 à 1937. ● zeppelin nom masculin (de Zeppelin, nom propre) Dirigeable rigide, construit… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • zeppelin — ZEPPELÍN, zeppeline, s.n. Navă aeriană dirijabilă de mari dimensiuni, construită din metal, cu numeroase compartimente umplute cu hidrogen sau cu alt gaz mai uşor decât aerul; dirijabil. – Din germ. Zeppelin. Trimis de ana zecheru, 13.09.2007.… …   Dicționar Român

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  • zeppelin — (n.) 1900, from Ger. Zeppelin, short for Zeppelinschiff Zeppelin ship, after Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin (1838 1917), German general who perfected its design …   Etymology dictionary

  • Zeppelin — ep pe*lin (ts[e^]p p[ e]*l[=e] ; Angl. z[e^]p p[ e]*l[i^]n), n. A dirigible balloon of the rigid type, consisting of a cylindrical trussed and covered frame supported by internal gas cells, and provided with means of propulsion and control. It… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Zeppelin — Zeppelin: Das Luftschiff ist nach seinem Erfinder Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin (1838–1917) benannt (Anfang des 20. Jh.s) …   Das Herkunftswörterbuch

  • Zeppelin — ► NOUN historical ▪ a large German dirigible airship of the early 20th century. ORIGIN named after Ferdinand, Count von Zeppelin (1838 1917), German airship pioneer …   English terms dictionary

  • zeppelin — [zep′ə lin, zep′lin] n. [after Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin (1838 1917), Ger general who designed the original] [often Z ] any rigid airship: commonly used from 1900 to 1937 …   English World dictionary

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