Photo of the Week
February 15, 2009 

I came across this photo a while back and thought it was pretty interesting.  I have seen many different photos of the USS Los Angeles in Panama, but this photo is the best I have seen yet.  The photographer was in the right place at the right time to capture this magnificent dirigible flying over Sosa Hill in Balboa.  Most of you will recognize that the photographer was standing in the Prado. From what I have read, the Los Angeles made at least two trips to the Canal Zone. 

The lighter than air USS Los Angeles, a 2,472,000 cubic foot rigid airship was built at Friedrichshafen, Germany. Her construction was partially funded by German World War I reparations and was conditional on her being employed for "civil" purposes. Completed in August 1924 under the builder's number LZ-126, she departed Germany in mid-October 1924 for delivery to the U.S. Navy. After a three day trans-Atlantic flight, the airship arrived at Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey, where her hydrogen lifting gas was replaced with non-flammable helium. This greatly increased her safety, but also significantly reduced her payload and range. In late November 1924 she was placed in commission as USS Los Angeles and began several years of flight activity to explore the potential of her type for commercial and Naval use.

Below are two other photos that were taken in the Panama Canal Zone. The first photo was taken at France Field and is a great shot.  The second photo below shows the Los Angeles docked to the USS Patoka, originally a oiler, which was modified as a tender for the Navy's rigid airships, receiving a distinctive mooring mast on her stern.


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