Well. That looks a little off, doesn't it?
The USS Los Angeles was a Navy airship, built as part of German war reparations from World War I. Early in her career, the Los Angeles was drained of hydrogen and refilled with non-flammable helium. Good idea, that. But it wasn't enough to make her accident-proof. This photo was taken on August 25, 1927, after a sudden change in the wind direction caught the back end of the moored Los Angeles.
Within moments, she was completely vertical.
The Naval History and Heritage Command doesn't say whether anyone was on board at the time. It would have been a hell of a ride, if there were. The Los Angeles only sustained a small amount of damage from this accident, but it was enough to prompt the Navy to switch to a safer mooring system.
This photo is public domain, and given to the Naval History and Heritage Command by Richard K. Smith, author of the book "The Airships Akron & Macon", 1974. But I ran across it thanks to reader lazzo51, who posted the photo to the BoingBoing Flickr Pool. Much appreciated!
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.