There are only a few inventors in the history of technology who lived to taste the rightful acknowledgement that belonged to them, in some cases even others put the inventions across. This statement is true for Dávid Schwarz, the Hungarian inventor of the rigid, dirigible airship, who died before his masterpiece was flown. Count Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin purchased Schwarz’s airship patent from his widow and made the invention world-famous.
Dávid Schwarz was born on the 7th of December, 1850 in Keszthely, as the seventh kid of a poor family. After his school years he worked in forestry and married the daughter of a wealthy timber-merchant of Zagreb in 1880. He inherited his father-in-law’s business in 1890 and became very interested in technological aspects through the machines used in forestry.
According to mult-kor.hu, his first plans for an airship were rejected by the Vienna Ministry of War, but Russia’s military attache to Vienna showed some interest in his work and convinced the Russian Ministry of War to invite the inventor. So he worked in Saint Petersburg for two years, but he couldn’t figure out a way to fill hydrogen despite the 77 thousand roubles he had spent on his work. In 1895 he moved to Berlin, and his rigid, dirigible airship, made of light metal, rouse the Prussian Ministry of War’s interest. However, they didn’t finance it since they found it to be inconvenient for military actions.
The rigid, aluminium framework and the cigar shaped body of the ship stretched onto it filled with hydrogen were also Schwarz’s ideas. He connected the airship and the nacelle with stable sticks instead of ropes, made the filling safer by gas cells. The propulsion of the three airscrews was ensured by the four-cylinder, water-cooled combustion engine.
So he solved the basic questions of aeronautics but unfortunately died before the trial flight of his invention. The first and last flight was held on the 3rd of November, 1897 in Berlin. It started out great, but the pilot, who had never flown such machinery before, panicked, when one of the fan-belts broke and released too much hydrogen from the airship, which then fell down and broke into two pieces.
Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin was among the people in the audience and witnessed all of this. He had already got a patent for his airship idea but he didn’t seem to progress as much as he wanted to. After the trial flight he bought all of the patents from Dávid Schwarz’s widow. Three years later he came out with the airship named after him. The zeppelin had a glorious career, only airplanes were able to supersede it decades later.
Copy editor: bm
Source: Daily News Hungary