aviation comes of age

the dirigible
the great airships


Ferdinand von Zeppelin
Zeppelin passenger ships
Zeppelin posters
Hindenburg disaster

HMA 1 Mayfly
HMA 23
R 31
R 32
R 33
R 34
R 36
R 38
R 80
R 100
The R101 airship disaster

USS Los Angeles
the Akron
the Macon


USS Los Angeles (ZR3)

LZ-126 was built in 1923-24 at the Zeppelin works in Friedrichshafen, Germany for the U.S. Navy.  The "American ship", intended as war-debt compensation, was the world's largest aircraft when first flown.  Built as a commercial ship, the 2,470,000-cubic-foot craft was furbished for carrying 20 passengers.

USS Los Angeles inside Hangar No. 1 at NAS Lakehurst

Manned by a German crew and with three American observers on board, LZ-126 was flown to NAS Lakehurst in October 1924, where she concluded a stunning 82.5-hour, 5,000 mile transatlantic flight.  In command of the aircraft:  Dr. Hugo Eckener.  She was the fourth aircraft to cross the North Atlantic.

Commissioned LOS ANGELES (ZR-3) by Mrs. Calvin Coolidge on 25 November 1924, the ship was to log nearly seven years of intensive, productive flight.   She was utilized as an experimental ship for a host of projects and trained student naval aviators for the program.  Extended over-water flights also were flown, to demonstrate the airship's commercial potential.  Crew:  40 to 45 officers and men.

Los Angeles in flight over Washington D.C.

LOS ANGELES was a major element in the development of the low-mast mooring system for airships, mechanical handling gear and, in 1929-31, the technique of an airship-airplane hook-on.  Though still in good flying condition, the ZR-3 was formally decommissioned at NAS Lakehurst on 30 June 1932, to economize funds.   Despite efforts to re-commission her, LOS ANGELES never flew again.

Experimental glider test being conducted aboard ZR-3
Aircraft approaching ZR-3 for hook-on

The aircraft had logged 4,398 hours during 331 flights.   Distance flown:  172,400 nautical miles.  After a reconditioning, in 1934, LOS ANGELES was used out on the field as a grounded testbed.  Finally, on 24 October 1939, the venerable ship was stricken from Navy inventory and, that fall, the airframe was dismantled inside Hangar No. 1.  No other rigid airship had a longer career.