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Hugo Eckener

Hugo Eckener was a German aeronautical engineer and airship pilot who had trained airship pilots and directed the construction of the zeppelins during World War I.

Born in Prussia on August 10, 1868, Eckener started out as a newspaper reporter. He joined Count von Zeppelin's company in 1906. He became a director in the firm and helped with the development of airships in the early 1900s. During World War I, he directed the construction of the zeppelins that were used by the Germany army. Following Zeppelin's death in 1917, he succeeded him as head of the company and returned the company to commercial construction of airships.

Hugh Eckener at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois, 1928

Hugh Eckener at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois,1928

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Credits - Library of Congress

Eckener piloted the LZ-126 (also called the ZR-3) on its October 1924 flight across the Atlantic Ocean. This airship, renamed the Los Angeles, had been built for the United States as part of its war reparations. He also commanded the Graf Zeppelin on its around-the-world flight in 1929 and on its polar-exploration flight in 1931.

After the Nazi party came to power in Germany, it partly acquired control of the Zeppelin company. Eckener opposed the Nazis and disagreed with using the zeppelins for Nazi propaganda. He lost favor with the Nazis and lost his job.