In 1909 Count Zeppelin had started the world's first national airline. Deutsche Luftschiffahrts-Aktiengesellschaft (DELAG) was founded to promote the airship as a means of travel and potential military platform. Zeppelin airships operated like flying cruise ships, offering twenty well-healed passengers at a time a new-fangled pleasure cruise aboard a faddish, innovation. But travel by airship was a dicey affair. Occasionally a trip ended in unscheduled stop when inclement weather drove the huge aircraft into the ground. Zeppelin slowly improved its design and service and, by the outbreak of the war in August of 1914, the company's airships had carried over 10000 paying passengers on over 1500 flights. As war ravaged the European countryside, the German Army and Navy equipped themselves with Zeppelin's M Class airships, capable of carrying a payload of 20100 lbs. and travelling at a (then amazing) speed of 52 mph.
Early in the war, German war planners imagined the possibility of bombing London, but technology and logistics prevented their realizing this plan. Being filled with hydrogen, the airships tended to burst into flames when hit by ground-fire. It's also important to remember that in 1914 the bomb (as we understand it) hadn't been developed. Early raiders dropped artillery shells on their targets. On the August 5, 1914 a Zeppelin bombed the city of Liege, but it was damaged by small arms fire and destroyed after a crash landing near Bonn. On the March 20, 1914 two Zeppelins successfully bombed Paris, dropping 4000 lbs. of explosives, killing one, and injuring eight.
Zeppelin (at "The Fat Boy"): "I wants to to make your flesh creep!"
John Bull: "Right-O!"
Punch, November 4, 1914