Life in the Orphanage
Hans was taken to an orphanage when he was only ten months old. The orphanage was not wealthy and Hans had encountered troubles while he was a child. His fellow orphans were not kind to him. He often dreamed of soaring far above all of his worries and problems. At five, Hans was far ahead of his classmates in math and science. The nuns at the orphanage took Hans into private tutor classes. By ten, Hans was studying aerodynamics and propulsion. He was immensely interested in flight and engineering. Using common objects and materials, Hans built miniature hot air balloon models. The nuns at his orphanage were amazed at his skill at the models.
A wealthy Prussian couple came and observed Hans's skill and intellect. They had no children and wished to adopt one. When Hans was twelve, the Grickheims adopted him. The Grickheims hired tutors and professors to teach Hans. When only fourteen, Hans took a ride in a hot air balloon. While marvelling at the flying machine, Hans also noted the balloon's many faults and imperfections. By fifteen, Hans was one of the best educated engineers in Berlin.
Hans Grickheim enrolled in Freidrich-Wilhelm University when he was 17 in 1865. Hans's innovations in engineering amazed his professors. Hans's thirst for knowledge made many professors and teachers enjoy teaching him. In 1869, when Hans was 21, he could not be taught anything more. Hans returned to his adotive parents mansion. They were amazed at how much he had learned. The Grickheims were supportive of Hans's projects and supplied him with his budget. Hans's dreamse were finally coming down to earth when his began construction of a propelled air balloon. In an institute outside Berlin, Grickheim built his first working balloon. It used a steam engine and had a specialized rudder that made the balloon fully steerable. The prototype worked and Hans took his parents on its maiden voyage. The Grickheims were extremely impressed and continued funding their son's project. A better version of the airship was built in 1871. Bismarck met with Hans and observed the Grickheimship II's flight. The Chancellor was very interested and put huge funding into Hans's project. By 1875, Hans and his team of engineers had launched four more ships. The project became more and more popular and famous engineers such as Haenlein, Eckener, Zeppelin and Schwarz joined it. By 1880, there were twelve airships in Grickheims fleet. Aluminum replaced wood as the major material in airship construction.