The emergency landing of an airship was reason enough to place a memorial stone. The euphoria that accompanied the giants of the sky in the imperial era was great. The memorial in a district of the southern Hessian town of Geinsheim commemorates the involuntary stop of Count Zeppelin with his LZ 4 model on 4 August 1908.
At a glance
The monument is freely accessible
The new flying vehicles in the sky sent people into a frenzy wherever they were seen. In 1900, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin (1838-1917) had made a breakthrough with a “rigid” airship fixed by a metal framework. The technology revolutionised civil and military air transport and was later personally promoted by Emperor William II (1859-1941). Zeppelins flew higher and further than propeller planes at the time and they carried heavier loads. Other types were the impact airship with gas-filled buoyancy body without frame and the semi-rigid as a combination of these systems.
Testimony of the First Sustained Flight
As popular as the giants of the air were, time and again there were setbacks and downright disasters. A mishap also occurred in Geinsheim in southern Hesse, on the banks of the Rhine at river kilometre 480, opposite Nierstein and Oppenheim: of all places, on his first long-distance flight, at 5:24 pm on 4 August 1908, the former Württemberg cavalry officer had to make an emergency landing of his LZ 4 model. Shortly before the destination on the “sustained flight” from Constance to Mainz, there was no longer enough lift due to an engine defect. Just one year later, a simple monument made of solid rubble stones was erected on the site of the involuntary stop on the Kornsand in Geinsheim. Its builder is unknown. The inscription plaque on a wall between two round columns with a bench in front merely commemorates the event.
The Flight’s Dramatic End Was the Beginning of Success
The demonstration flight finally came to a sad end: after ballast had been dropped and five people had disembarked, it could be continued. Graf Zeppelin circled the city of Mainz and flew south again. He had to make another emergency landing in Echterdingen near Stuttgart on 5 August. A gust of thunder tore the LZ 4 from its moorings and drove the ship into an orchard, where it burst into flames. After this disaster, a massive fundraising campaign raised 6 million gold marks so that Count Zeppelin could continue his aviation project. Later, he himself described 5 August 1908 as the “birth of national airship travel in Germany”.
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