Germany aviation pioneer who built the first rigid dirigible airships, named Zeppelins. He patented his idea on 31 Aug 1895 and formed a company to build airships in 1898. Many thought his invention incredible, and called him "Foolish Count". His first airship took off in 2 Jul 1900 at Lake Constance, where it had been assembled in a floating assembly shed. He continued to improve the design and built a fleet of airships for commercial passenger service. During WW I, Zeppelins were used to bomb Britain beginning 19 Jan 1915 with attacks on Great Yarmouth and King's Lynn. After the war, passenger service included transatlantic flights. Zeppelin use ended after the 6 May 1937 Hindenburg fire disaster at Lakehurst, N.J.
Ferdinand Adolf Heinrich August Graf von Zeppelin [Wikipedia]