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[00:00:02]

Welcome to get sleepy. The podcast, when we listen, we relax and we get sleepy. My name's Thomas and I'm your host. Thank you for being here and tuning in tonight. Seeing as many of you have told us how much you've been enjoying our history episodes, we wanted to keep those coming for you. So tonight, we'll float back in time, quite literally, because we'll be learning about the invention of a historic airship, Led Zeppelin. Named for its creator, the Zeppelin was the most famous Richard airship of its kind, and while ultimately it was not the most successful aircraft, it holds an important place in aviation history.

[00:01:00]

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[00:03:43]

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[00:04:41]

And hold for a moment. Then release. Now, she released visualize any tension flowing down and out of your body as you exhale. And if that helps you to relax, just take a few more deep breaths, squeezing those shoulders up. And releasing in your own time. In our story, we'll be leaving the worries of today behind and traveling back in time to the late eighteen hundreds when the world was very different than it is now. So use your imagination and come with me back in time.

[00:05:47]

Nowadays, planes dot the sky across the world. But as we drift back through the years, we see fewer and fewer. They become smaller and less sophisticated. Until eventually. There are no wings in the sky, but for those of bats. We passed by the day when the Wright brothers made their historic first flight. And we go even further back. Over a decade before the invention of the Ford Model T car. In this day and age, there is a great deal yet to be discovered in the fields of science and technology.

[00:06:51]

As with much of modern history, we know the major events that came to pass, but we don't know exactly what moments shaped each and every day. And so for tonight's story. We begin by imagining what may have happened on a sunny morning many years ago. Ferdinand von Zeppelin stood at the entrance to his long, lush garden and looked up at the blue sky above. The year was 1890. At the age of 52, Ferdinand had already lived a full and exciting life.

[00:08:03]

As he watched the white clouds drift slowly by. Ferdinand thought about all he had achieved in his career. It spent much of it working with the German military, which had afforded him many opportunities, like the clouds that passed overhead. He had travelled all over the world. He'd even made it across the ocean to America, where he served as an official observer with the union army during the Civil War. But now, in early retirement, Ferdinand felt as if there was still so much more to do, as if he had yet to fulfill his life's true potential.

[00:08:58]

The sound of laughter brought Ferdinand out of his daydream and back to where he stood in the garden. He turned to see his 11 year old daughter, Helena Mohalla, for short running gleefully through the hall toward him. In her hands, she held a bright yellow kite. It was a gift from her uncle given to her during a recent trip to Berlin. She was excited as she told her father that finally the weather was perfect for flying a kite.

[00:09:41]

Ferdinand smiled at agreeing that it certainly seemed like a good day for it. With that, Hannah took her father's hand. As they walked across the neatly cropped grass, Ferdinand thought of his own childhood here at the manor house that was his ancestral home, the grand house was located high on a hill surrounded by open fields that stretched as far as the eye could see. In the distance was a large forest where he would often go to play with his brother and sister and just beyond the trees shimmied the blue expanse of Lake Constance.

[00:10:36]

In the summer, the local children would often gather there to swim in the crisp, cool water, which provided a little respite from the hot sun overhead. Ferdinand had love, loved the freedom that life here afforded him and his siblings. His memories of running through the fields and swimming in the lake with some of his most treasured. And now in retirement, he had the chance to witness his daughter's love of the place. Ferdinand watch Tella place the kite gently on the grass and take the wooden handle in her fingers.

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She stepped back across the lawn carefully and spooling the string that connected the fabric and the wood. When it was completely unfounded, she started to run. Faster and faster, she darted across the grass. Behind her, the yellow kite lifted into the air. As the kite caught the wind, it flapped and fluttered like a bird dancing on the current. Ferdinand encouraged his daughter to keep a firm grip. Telling her that it needed to be guided. For the rest of the afternoon, Ferdinand and Helen played with the kite together, they watched with delight as it soared high above them on the grounds they marveled as it flew and wondered if it might be spotted by people bathing in the waters of Lake Constance.

[00:12:39]

What would those distant viewers think it was, a large yellow bird, perhaps, or maybe a trick of the light against the blue sky? Later that night, Ferdinand told his wife, Isabella, about the fun they had in the garden. Isabella enjoyed hearing how quickly her daughter had mastered the kite. Ferdinand told Isabella it reminded him of his time in America, where he watched his union army soldiers took to the skies to look for movement on the ground.

[00:13:25]

They floated in baskets which were attached to massive balloons from such great heights, Ferdinand explained the soldiers could, surveying the landscape for miles in all directions. But it would be even better if a ship could fly freely, its passengers going wherever they pleased. He imagined them soaring over the green fields around the manor and floating above the calm blue water of Lake Constance. It was this picture he followed into his dreams as he drifted off to sleep.

[00:14:17]

The following morning, Isabella stepped into the large kitchen of the manor. The sunlight shone brightly through the windows, filtering through hanging bundles of herbs and bathing the room in a warm orange hue. It's illuminated the large cast iron stove and reflected off the shiny panels on the counter, fresh eggs were gathered in a bowl and soft cuts, bread sat invitingly by a pot of strawberry jam. Isabella saw her husband and daughter seated together at the wooden kitchen table. They ate toast as they talked in front of a roll of cream colored drafting paper.

[00:15:12]

Curious, Isabella asked them what they were doing, pencil in hand, Ferdinand turned to his wife he was showing had an idea he was working on a balloon big enough to carry them and all their friends high into the clouds. He had long been interested in aircraft design. More than a decade prior, he'd attended a lecture on the postal service and air travel, which had sparked his curiosity. At the time, he had scribbled some thoughts in a little notebook, a rough idea for his own flying craft.

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Now, Hala rode out the drafting paper showing her mother a pencil sketch. The GAO pointed to a curious, cigar shaped balloon proudly. She explained it would be called a Zeppelin after the family name. Once aboard, they would be free to travel wherever they wish to go. Isabella smiled at them, both impressed by the boldness of such an idea. But she wondered aloud just how they would ever realize such an ambitious project. Hala reassured her mother.

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They would find a way to make it happen. Ferdinand worked on the Zeppelin airship design for the rest of the day. The name of his pencil swept across the paper, drawing elongated lines and broad curves. He scribbled note after note, working out measurements and thinking of possible building materials, sketch by sketch, he annotated each element of the drawings, jotting down ideas to make this craft as light and nimble as possible. Ferdinand's spent the following day in the library of the manor.

[00:17:44]

He sat in his comfortable, high backed leather armchair, thumbing through books. He was eager to learn about any ideas on how to power and steer such a craft. The day turned into evening. And Hala visited her father, bringing him a cup of hot tea. Ferdinand closed his book and thanked his daughter for the welcome drink. He sipped it slowly, enjoying the warmth as it spread through his body and calmed his mind. As he saved his team, Ferdinand thought about what he could do to bring his grand vision to life.

[00:18:37]

Perhaps he could speak with his former colleagues, his aircraft just might be a project they would be interested in. Over the following months, Ferdinand met with numerous military leaders explaining his daring vision for the cigar shaped balloon. It would be big enough to carry lots of people into the sky, but engineered as well as any seafaring ship. In a way, it would sail through the air, he told Tonken. By now, Ferdinand sketches had evolved considerably.

[00:19:25]

He had added even more detail about the Zeppelins frame, its cabin and the engine that would drive the whole thing. Unlike Ferdinand, who was a visionary, his colleagues could not imagine how such a flying machine would work. And as they often noted, he was a military man, not a trained engineer. But he was undeterred. He continued to work on his idea, certain that someday it would become a reality. The months turned into years and Ferdinand stayed focused every day, he refined his concept a little bit more.

[00:20:25]

Whenever he felt he made another breakthrough, he would kohala into the kitchen, she would ask questions about his plans, make suggestions, or remind him of another older idea he had previously explored but left behind. These were as varied as adding a rudder to maneuver the craft. We're putting in wider windows so they could see more of the sky. Encouraged, Ferdinand went to pick up his pencil and go back to work, making ever more intricate plans. Over the years, he conjured up the idea to use a series of enormous aluminium rings to form the hang of the ship.

[00:21:22]

The rings would be latticed with long aluminium girders and capped at both ends with conical pieces. Inside the balloon skeleton, there would be 17 helium bags. Around the outside, hundreds of feet of linen to protect them from the elements. On the floor of his home, Ferdinand rode out his hundreds of sketches, he explained to friends and family in meticulous detail how healing would be used to lift the balloon into the air. And how several engines would move the aircraft both forward and backward.

[00:22:16]

His idea was formed, but so far the Zeppelin remained only in his imagination. And on reams of drafting paper. Soon all of that would change. One evening, Hala, who was now 19, eagerly awaited her father's return from a meeting with several important people. As he approached the manner, Ferdinand's saw the hopeful look on his daughter's face. His dream was finally coming true. He was going to build his airship. For the next several weeks, Ferdinand focused all his energy on finding the best people he could.

[00:23:12]

He met with local carpenters and engineers and told them in great detail what he had planned. He brought together a small but talented team who were ready and willing to construct his airship. They would also build a special hangar to house it. And so it was in 1898 on the banks of Lake Constance, the team set to work. As the sun rose each morning, they chopped down two trees from the nearby woods and transported them by horse and cart to the banks of the lake.

[00:23:59]

They're the long trunks were laid out one by one and soared down to size. As they worked, the smell of fresh wood fell to the al. Baseboards would soon be the frame of an impressive hangar for the airship. When it was complete, the structure looked as if it were meant to hold a mighty boat, and as Ferdinand walked through it for the first time, his mind filled with visions of what was still to be achieved. They needed to build to the passenger cabin.

[00:24:43]

Construct the cigar shaped frame and so the linen canopy. As he stood by the opening, which faced the peaceful Lake Ferdinand, let his imagination drift. He thought about a day when he would stand inside his wondrous craft. Rising gracefully up into the clear blue sky. As the months went by, Ferdinand oversaw the aircraft's construction. He watched closely as workers spent aluminum around armfuls. He personally inspected the pine for the cabin and tested the helium bags to ensure they would not lose any gas.

[00:25:40]

Ferdinand also ran countless tests of the two dimler engines that would power the great airship. He wanted to make sure it could travel for miles and miles. One morning in July 1900, Sadananda one Kyly, I went down to the lake. It was a special day, Isobella and their daughter traveled down to meet him by the enormous hangar. As the morning sun glistened on the water, they looked around for Ferdinand and his crew. But there was no one to be seen.

[00:26:30]

Little did they know the crew was already on board their new craft. As Hannah and her mother waited, a gentle rumbling sound began to emanate from the building. They watched in wonder as slowly and steadily Ferdinand's as a ship emerged from the hanger, gliding gently over Lake Constance. At more than 400 feet long, the Zeppelin was bigger than anything I'd ever seen before. And yet, despite its size, it seemed as light as a feather as it floated past.

[00:27:19]

Even though they had studied his countless drawings over the years, watching the airship come to life was more breathtaking than they could ever have imagined. From the cabin beneath the hull, Ferdinand Wojtyla wave with delight as he passed by. Taking leadership controls, he filled the helium bags with more gas. The whole craft began to lift. Higher and higher, the airship flew. Ferdinand looked through the cabin window once more. And so his wife and daughter growing smaller and smaller on the ground below.

[00:28:15]

Looking to the sky, Hala clapped her hands with glee. Seeing the airship floating there above the marina grounds reminded her of that day long ago when she and her father flew the little yellow kite. She watched in horror as it cruised through the sky over Lake Constance. Then out over the woods and the open countryside nearby. As Ferdinand stared, he looked down at the tree tops and the wide green fields. All the places he had played as a child.

[00:29:06]

Then he turned the rudder off the ship, maneuvering it toward the manor itself. Slowly, Ferdinand, so the only home he had ever known. Come into view. He smiled proudly as they gently rumbled above it. That first day, the ship traveled just three and a half miles, but Ferdinand knew this trip would have an enormous impact on the future of flight. Five years later, he had enough financial backing to begin development and construction of a second ship.

[00:29:58]

Meanwhile, many other entrepreneurs from across the world were developing and building their own gas powered aircraft. The era of the skies had truly begun. Soon, Ferdinand's airships were so advanced they could fly for 12 hours at a time, outpacing even the most impressive designs by other inventors. As the years passed, he grew ever more ambitious and the public came to know the name of the man who built the strange cigar shaped airship. More than two decades after his military career had ended, Ferdinand found himself one of the most beloved and celebrated people in German society.

[00:31:03]

Standing on the lawn one day, he thought back to that special afternoon with Hala all those years ago. When they had flown the little yellow kite in the clear blue sky. He thought about how it caught the breeze and danced so gracefully overhead. He remembered drawing thousands of pencil sketches and working with a team to turn pine trees into a hangar by the lake. And he thought about sailing through the wide open skies in an airship that had once been nothing more than a dream.