The USS Los Angeles was a rigid airship, designated ZR-3, that was built in 1923-1924 by the Zeppelin factory in Friedrichshafen, Germany, where it was originally designated LZ-126. The airship was given to the United States by the German Government, as it was partially funded by war reparations from World War I.

The Los angeles at her mast

After a Transatlantic flight to Lakehurst, New Jersey, the airship was commissioned in the U.S. Navy on 25 November, 1924 at Anacostia, D.C. with Maurice R. Pierce in command. The airship was also switched over from hydrogen to helium gas, which reduced payload but improved safety.

The aircraft went on to log a total of 4,398 hours of flight, covering a distance of 172,400 nautical miles (319,300 km) traveling all over from places in the Pacific to the Atlantic. It served as an observatory and experimental platform, as well as a training ship for other airships.


On August 26, 1927, while tethered at the Lakehurst high mast, a gust of wind caught the tail of the Los Angeles and lifted it into colder, denser air that was just above the airship. This caused the lifting of the tail to continue. The crew on board tried to compensate by climbing up the keel toward the rising tail, but could not stop the ship from reaching an angle of 85 degrees, before it finally descended. Amazingly, the ship suffered only slight damage and was able to fly the next day. This was considered one of the most funniest moments in airship history, since it didn't end in a flaming, gruesome disaster like most airship accidents.

The los angeles does a nose stand!