From Ohio History Central
Zeppelins are a type of airship, named for and invented by Ferdinand von Zeppelin. They are also known as blimps, airships, and dirigibles. These vessels once used heated air to become airborne. Over time, hydrogen and helium replaced the heated air. Zeppelins are different than hot-air balloons because balloons float with the wind, while zeppelins have engines that can steer the airship. Zeppelins have transported people: militaries have used them in wartime to observe and bomb enemy positions; and companies have also utilized them to advertise products.
The center of zeppelin production in the United States was Akron, Ohio. In 1916, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company purchased land near Akron to build a plant that could produce zeppelin aircraft. In 1917, the main Goodyear Company created a subsidiary known as the Goodyear Zeppelin Company to manufacture the zeppelins. That same year, the firm received a contract from the federal government to manufacture nine zeppelins for the United States military during World War I. Unfortunately for the company, its manufacturing facilities were not complete in 1917, so Goodyear completed the first airships inside of a large amusement park building in Chicago, Illinois. The military used these airships to bomb and to spy upon enemy positions.
Zeppelins remain more popular in Europe. During the late 1990s, Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik began to utilize zeppelins to transport cargo and passengers, just as airships had done in the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s.
[[Category:The Progressive Era]]