Graf Zeppelin's airships made him world-famous. But aviation took the central role in his life only after the involuntary end of his career as an officer at the age of 51. Graf Zeppelin assumed command of most of the pioneering flights of his first airships from 1900. This active role corresponded with the ideal image of the time; of the aviation pioneer who combined theory and practice and defied all hazards and dangers. After the foundation of Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH in 1908, Zeppelin - by now seventy years old - increasingly became a representative figure. He used his popularity shrewdly in the media to further his own goals. At the same time he always sought new challenges and found them in the airplane. Zeppelin sponsored many flying competitions and personally initiated the development of two military airplanes in 1914. Alexander Baumann developed giant, land-based airplanes, which were used from 1917 as bombers over England. Claude Dornier was commissioned to construct giant flying boats, using mostly light metal. Graf Zeppelin took a lively and active interest in both developments until his death.