The Los Angeles was moored on the 160' tall high mast at Lakehurst Naval Air Station, NJ. For serveral hours during the morning she had swung about the mast in light and variable winds, and was forced westward.
During the noon hour the Atlantic sea breeze began to work it's way inland. Because the Los Angeles was facing westward, the colder, denser air - moving from the eastern shore - enveloped the tail section first, causing it to rise. As the tail section roase the wind veered to the southeast, which placed the cold air under the stern and keel of the Los Angeles, increasing the rate of ascent toward vertical.
Men scrambled aft and the water ballast was shifted toward the tail section, but to no avail - the speed at which the tail rose made pumping water aft impossible. Crewmen hung on as the ship reached an 85 degree nose-down attitude and wound up staring vertically at the ground some 200 feet below the control car's front windows.
After three to five minutes, the Los Angeles slowly rotated to port and the stern slowly began to settle toward the horizontal. However, the ship's helium had been cooled by the sea breeze and, as the ship began to level, the tail began to fall at an alarmingly fast rate. The watch crew reacted by dumping nearly 2,500 pounds of water ballast to check the aft section's decent.
Approximately seven minutes after it had all started, the Los Angeles was level and facing into a southseast breeze.