SCHWARZ, DAVID (1845–1897), airship inventor. Schwarz, a fairly wealthy timber merchant in Zagreb who taught himself the principles of engineering and mechanics, decided that a rigid airship could be built by using aluminum. The industrial production of this metal had been greatly facilitated by the discovery in 1886 of an electrolytic process. Schwarz gave up his business and began to do research on the properties of aluminum; he showed that it could be soldered and hardened. After some years, he interested General Krieghammer, the Austrian minister of war, in an airship which he began constructing in 1890. However, government financing for actual flight experiments was not forthcoming. Schwarz then went from Vienna to Russia, where he made some successful flights. In 1892 he went to Germany and constructed an improved form of his airship. However, the German government procrastinated in its financing of flight tests until January 1897. When Schwarz received the telegram informing him of the German government's willingness to finance the flight tests, he died of shock. In November 1897 Schwarz's dirigible was flown from Tempelhof Field. It crashed and was destroyed after being flown for four hours. The pilot saved his life by jumping out of the dirigible. Count Zeppelin, who witnessed the flight, bought all Schwarz's plans and designs from his widow, and then rebuilt Schwarz's airship with his own modifications. This rebuilt airship was the famed "Zeppelin."
E. Heppner, Juden als Erfinder und Entdecker (1913), 55–57.
[Samuel Aaron Miller]