Ferdinand von Zeppelin spent nearly a decade developing the dirigible. The first of many rigid dirigibles, called zeppelins in his honor, was completed in 1900. He made the first directed flight on July 2, 1900. In 1910, a zeppelin provided the first commercial air service for passengers. By his death in 1917, he had built a zeppelin fleet, some of which were used to bomb London during World War I. However, they were too slow and explosive a target in wartime and too fragile to withstand bad weather. They were found to be vulnerable to antiaircraft fire, and about 40 were shot down over London.
After the war, they were used in commercial flights until the crash of the Hindenburg in 1937.
Ferdinand von Zeppelin died on March 8, 1917.